Royal Caribbean International announced on Friday it has canceled voyages on four ships because of “ongoing Covid-related circumstances around the world.”
“In abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations” on some ships, the company said in a statement.
The cruise line said it moved forward with the cancellations despite its health and safety measures, including vaccination and testing requirements for guests and crew.
Royal Caribbean said guests booked on the canceled sailings would receive compensation options, including a full refund.
The affected ships
Royal Caribbean said the following four ships are affected:
• Vision of the Seas: Its return to cruising is postponed until March 7.
• Serenade of the Seas: Its sailings from January 8 to March 5 are canceled. It’s returning after dry dock on April 26.
• Jewel of the Seas: Its sailings from January 9 to February 12 are canceled. It’s returning on February 20.
• Symphony of the Seas: Its sailings from January 8 to January 22 are canceled. It’s returning on January 29.
“We regret having to cancel our guests’ long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding,” the statement said. “Our top priority is always the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit.”
A tough week for cruising
The Norwegian Pearl returns to Miami on January 5, 2022. The cruise ship returned after only one day out at sea.
This latest wave of Covid-19 cases, powered by the highly transmittable Omicron variant of the coronavirus, has cruise companies scrambling again.
The following happened just this week:
What the CDC says about cruising right now
The agency bumped up the travel risk level for cruise travel from Level 3 to Level 4, indicating the risk for Covid-19 is “very high.”
The move “reflects increases in cases onboard cruise ships since identification of the Omicron variant,” the CDC website said.
Cruise Lines International Association, a trade association, expressed disappointment at the CDC’s elevated risk level.
“The decision by the CDC to raise the travel level for cruise is particularly perplexing considering that cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population onboard — far fewer than on land — and the majority of those cases are asymptomatic or mild in nature, posing little to no burden on medical resources onboard or onshore,” CLIA said in a statement.