Two Covid cases on one of first N.American cruises since virus hit

Two guests on one of the first cruise ships to sail from North America since the Covid-19 pandemic hit tested positive Thursday, the cruise company said, adding all passengers and crew had been vaccinated.

The Celebrity Millennium, carrying about 600 passengers and 650 crew, set sail from the Caribbean island of St. Maarten on Saturday for a seven-day tour including stops in Barbados, Aruba and Curacao.

“Two guests sharing a stateroom onboard Celebrity Millennium tested positive for Covid-19 while conducting the required end-of-cruise testing,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement.

“The individuals are asymptomatic and currently in isolation.”

It said that the ship exceeded US Covid-19 guidelines, and all guests were required to show proof of vaccination as well as a negative Covid-19 test before sailing.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently requires that more than 95 percent of passengers and crew be vaccinated in order for cruise lines to bypass a requirement for trial voyages.

Cruise operations were suspended on March 14, 2020 when the CDC issued a “no sail order” to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. Several ships already had deadly outbreaks on board.

Some cruises resumed operations in Europe and elsewhere last year, but the ban remained in place in the United States.

“We are conducting contact tracing, expediting testing for all close contacts and closely monitoring the situation,” Royal Caribbean said.

“This situation demonstrates that our rigorous health and safety protocols work to protect our crew, guests and the communities we visit.”