Royal Caribbean Disembarks 5 Crew Members from U.S.-Bound Ship After Some Test Positive for COVID
"We have worked with local health authorities to safely disembark these crew members and oversee any medical care they need. At this time, there are no additional positive cases onboard," a Royal Caribbean spokesperson tells PEOPLE
The ship is currently on its way to the United States. Four crew members tested positive for COVID-19, and one other staffer's test resulted in inconclusive results.
"Earlier this week, four crew members were identified after a positive test; they were immediately quarantined. In addition, test results identified one additional crew member whose test results were inconclusive," a Royal Caribbean spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
USA Today reported Monday that the five crew members — who were reportedly all asymptomatic — disembarked the ship at Mallorca's Port of Palma.
"We have worked with local health authorities to safely disembark these crew members and oversee any medical care they need. At this time, there are no additional positive cases onboard," the spokesperson adds to PEOPLE.
The ship is not carrying any passengers, but has 1,400 crew members on board, USA Today reported.
Before boarding, all crew members must receive a negative PCR test result and participate in regular testing once aboard, the spokesperson tells PEOPLE, adding that "this process allows us to detect any possible COVID-19 cases and take the necessary measures to contain the spread of the virus."
All crew members will be vaccinated before guests come on board the ship, and those who aren't currently will be vaccinated in the U.S. upon arrival, Royal Caribbean confirms to PEOPLE.
A Friday update on the company's website said international cruise lines will be suspended until July after previously being scheduled to begin sailing in June.
"At Royal Caribbean International, our guests and crew's safety and well-being are always our top priorities. In order to allow additional time for our return to service preparations, we have decided to extend the suspension of sailings for our global fleet through June 30th, 2021," the announcement said.
Once the voyages do begin, cruises will be manned by vaccinated crews, and all adult passengers will also need to be "fully vaccinated," the company previously said in a press release. The trips will also be open to passengers under the age of 18 who have tested negative for COVID-19.
Additionally, all passengers will have to meet local COVID-19 travel requirements, which may include taking additional tests before and after arriving in the Bahamas, where voyages will depart.
"We are excited to get back to delivering memorable vacations in the Caribbean, gradually and safely," Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said in a statement. "The vaccines are clearly a game changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice."
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Last spring, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a "no-sail order," causing cruise companies to halt all sailings in the Caribbean.
At the time, several cruise ships across the world had become sources of major COVID-19 outbreaks.
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Per the CDC, cruise lines can now "apply for a COVID-19 conditional sailing certificate to begin sailing with restricted passenger voyages" — though the organization also added that the "CDC may adjust these requirements and recommendations based on public health considerations and other factors."
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