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COVID rate on Royal Caribbean ships 'way below' US levels: Bayley

PHOTO: SBW-PHOTO CRUISE_Michael_Bayley_1.jpg
'We now have a positivity rate way below the national rate and way below our big homeport states such as Florida, California, Texas, etc., and way below Broward and Miami-Dade in Florida,' Michael Bayley said
With the Omicron variant circulating, COVID-19 positivity rates on some Royal Caribbean ships are close to 1%, 'way below the national rate and our big homeport states,' President and CEO Michael Bayley said.

'With a typical sailing having anywhere from 95% to 98% fully vaccinated on-board population and all guests tested before boarding and all crew tested weekly with front-of-house staff now being tested every three days and everyone wearing masks the vast majority of the time, along with social distancing, sanitizing, etc., we now have a positivity rate way below the national rate and way below our big homeport states such as Florida, California, Texas, etc., and way below Broward and Miami-Dade in Florida, the two counties which are home to our biggest homeports of Miami and Port Everglades,' Bayley said in a Facebook update today.

Odyssey and Symphony in the news

Two Royal Caribbean ships have been in the news lately, Odyssey of the Seas for its 1.1% rate (55 cases) and Symphony of the Seas, whose Dec. 11 cruise had a 0.78% rate (48 cases).

In his update, Bayley stressed he's sharing his personal observation about the new variant, not making any kind of medical, scientific or political statement.

98%-plus of positives vaccinated, 99% mild symptoms or asymptomatic

He noted 98%-plus of the cases on Royal Caribbean ships have been fully vaccinated people, and 99% are asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms and 'often surprised' they are positive.

'It really does seem as though the virus [for those who are vaccinated] has morphed [into] something more like a mild cold,' Bayley said, adding that his comments are not based on science 'but simply what we are seeing and hearing in this environment.'

Ports react

Further, Bayley noted that destinations are responding to their Omicron concerns with 'isolated cases of ports closely temporarily for cruise access if either the destination on the ship has elevated positivity rates.'

(Odyssey did not call at Aruba and Curaçao this week.)

Crew now receiving boosters

Royal Caribbean now has 21 ships in operation, 40,000 crew back to work — all fully vaccinated and all now receiving boosters, Bayley said — along with more than 50,000 to 60,000 passengers a week with those over 12 fully vaccinated and, increasingly, the 5- to 12-year-olds are getting vaccinated.

70% to 80% occupancy in December

Occupany has been ratched up about 10% a month since July's US restart at 20% to 30% average to approximately 70% to 80% in December.

Bayley also reported guest satisfaction is 'sky-high.'

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