WASHINGTON — Hundreds of passengers who embarked on an 11-day cruise from Miami were returned to port Wednesday after less than two days because several dozen crew members got infected with COVID-19.
This comes as COVID-19 cases have been reported on every cruise ship sailing with passengers in U.S. waters, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The latest CDC data shows all 92 ships with passengers currently embarked on a voyage have met the threshold for investigation by the health agency. The CDC's investigation threshold includes cases reported in 0.10% or more of passengers and at least one case involving crew members.
According to the Washington Post, this week marked the first time that every ship had reached that level of CDC coronavirus investigation.
There are also 18 ships in U.S. waters that only have crew members on board. Of those, 12 have reported no COVID-19 cases during the past 7 days, according to the CDC data posted on Wednesday.
The pandemic also prompted a last-minute cancelation of another cruise that was scheduled to depart Wednesday. Norwegian Cruise Line said it was canceling sailings on eight of its ships in the U.S. and abroad to protect the health and safety of guests, crew members and communities.
Cheryl Rogers, of Starke, Florida, was among the passengers that were returned to Miami on the Norwegian Pearl, which had only left port Monday. Rogers says travelers were told crew members fell ill with the coronavirus.
Royal Caribbean on Wednesday also canceled a sailing on its Spectrum of the Seas ship scheduled for Jan. 6 after nine passengers on a previous trip were identified as close contacts to a Hong Kong COVID-19 case, according to Reuters.
Last week, the CDC warned everyone not to go on cruises, regardless of their vaccination status, because of onboard outbreaks fueled by the omicron variant.
The Cruise Lines International Association said in response that it was disappointed with the new recommendations, saying the industry was singled out despite the fact it follows stricter health protocols than other travel sectors.
The decision “is particularly perplexing considering that cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population onboard,” a statement said. “The majority of those cases are asymptomatic or mild in nature, posing little to no burden on medical resources onboard or onshore.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.