Royal Caribbean International has postponed some voyages amid heightened concerns over Covid-19's highly contagious Omicron variant.
The flagship brand of New York-listed Royal Caribbean Group has not reported any new infections on its ships but has still pushed back four sailings.
It has postponed cruises on 228,081-gt Symphony of the Seas (built 2018) to 29 January, 90,090-gt Jewel of the Seas (built 2004) to 20 February and 78,717-gt Vision of the Seas (built 1998) to 7 March.
The brand has also paused sailings on the 90,090-gt Serenade of the Seas (built 2003) to 26 April, planning to return it to service after dry-docking.
“As a result of the ongoing Covid-related circumstances around the world, and in an abundance of caution, Royal Caribbean International is pausing operations for the following ships,” it said on its website.
“We regret having to cancel our guests’ long-awaited vacations and appreciate their loyalty and understanding. Our top priority is always the well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit.”
Royal Caribbean International posted the “health and travel update” last Friday, three days after cancelling a 6 January trip on the 169,379-gt Spectrum of the Seas (built 2019), Reuters has reported.
It called off that trip after nine guests on a 2 January sailing trip were identified as “close contacts” of a Hong Kong Covid-19 case.
The contacts tested negative, but the ship still returned to Hong Kong on 5 January so that all guests and crew could be tested on that day and last Friday, Reuters said.
Royal Caribbean did away with the voyages days after Jason Liberty, former chief financial officer, took over as chief executive from Richard Fain, who ended his 33-year tenure at the top on a bullish note.
“We intend to maintain our goal of delivering the safest vacation on land or sea and will constantly adjust our procedures to accomplish this even in the face of Omicron’s amazing transmissibility,” Fain said last month.
Fain, who will remain chairman, noted that 1,745 people out of 1.1m guests tested positive on Royal Caribbean ships since they resumed sailing in June — a 0.16% positivity rate.
“Omicron is having a big short-term impact on everyone, but many observers see this as a major step towards Covid-19 becoming endemic rather than epidemic,” he said.
“We don’t like to see even one case, but our experience is a fraction of the comparable statistics of virtually any other comparable location or industry.”