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Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean cancel trips as Omicron surges

Two major cruise lines — Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines — have canceled scheduled voyages this week as the Omicron variant sparks renewed concerns about COVID-19 outbreaks aboard ships. Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed cancellations that impacted upcoming trips on eight of its vessels. The cruises had embarkation dates ranging from Wednesday through April 23. The company said affected customers will receive full refunds. “Our first priority is the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit. Due to ongoing travel restrictions, we’ve had to modify a few sailings,” Norwegian Cruise Line said in an update posted to its website. Royal Caribbean Cruises canceled a “Spectrum of the Seas” voyage slated for Thursday after authorities said nine customers were in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case in Hong Kong, Reuters reported. Shares of both cruise operators were flat in midday trading Thursday. The cancellations marked another blow for cruise operators that were forced to shut down for months during the COVID-19 pandemic. The companies have since implemented enhanced health and safety measures to protect passengers. Trips have continued in recent days despite a spike in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant. On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing all 92 cruise ships with passengers in US waters were under investigation due to reported COVID-19 cases, the Washington Post reported. The CDC updated its guidance on Dec. 30, warning Americans to “avoid cruise travel, regardless of vaccination status” due to a “very high level of COVID-19” on ships. Cruise Lines International Association, an industry trade group, slammed the CDC’s warning at the time. “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,” the group said.




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