Hong Kong halts cruise-to-nowhere after Covid-19 suspected in crew member

The much-heralded return to life of the global cruise sector continues to suffer various setbacks. Last week Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas (IMO 9228344) was the first cruise holiday vessel to leave the port since March last year, but promptly had to divert to Key West to evacuate a seriously ill passenger (see IMN, October 22nd).

It has now been revealed that Hong Kong authorities prevented a Royal Caribbean cruise ship from departing the city’s terminal late on Thursday October 21st because routine testing returned a positive result for a single crew member.

The Spectrum of the Seas (IMO 9778856) was scheduled to begin a “cruise to nowhere” journey in nearby waters, restricted to half capacity and only for fully vaccinated residents who had tested negative for the virus 48 hours prior to the trip.

About 1,000 passengers out of a total of 1,200 had already boarded the ship before the four-night trip had to be cancelled. All have to undergo compulsory testing but were allowed to leave the ship as they did not have direct contact with the crew member.

Royal Caribbean said on Facebook that “in a routine Covid-19 test on crew members today, we identified one crew member who tested indeterminate. Following secondary sample testing, the test resulted preliminary positive for Covid-19,”

The 40-year-old crew member tested positive for Covid-19 in Malaysia in July and then had tested negative more than 10 times since returning to Hong Kong in August. He was fully vaccinated with China’s Sinovac vaccine. His latest sample was collected on October 19 and had a “very low viral load”, the Centre for Health Protection said in a statement, adding he was asymptomatic and the decision to hold the ship was “a prudent measure”.

2003-built, Bahamas-flagged, 90,090 gt Serenade of the Seas is owned by Serenade of the Seas care of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd of Miami, Florida. ISM manager is RCL Cruises Ltd of Weybridge, UK. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of Serenade Of The Seas Inc. As of October 24th the vessel was scheduled to arrive at Tampa, having left Cococay in the Bahamas on October 23rd.

2019-built, Bahamas-flagged, 169,379 gt Spectrum of the Seas is owned by Spectrum of the Seas Inc care of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd of Miami, Florida, USA. It is entered with Gard P&I on behalf of Spectrum of the Seas Inc. As of October 24th the vessel remained at Hong Kong anchorage.