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The first post-COVID departure from the Manhattan Cruise Terminal landed in Bermuda with six passengers onboard testing positive for COVID. A total of twenty-two guests ended up quarantining rather than vacationing on the island.
Bermuda’s newspaper, The Royal Gazette, first reported the incident after the Crystal Symphony docked on the island. All crew and guests on the ship were fully vaccinated, but five tested positive during the crossing — with another subsequently testing positive on arrival, according to the cruise company.
“During the crossing from New York City to Bermuda, PCR nasopharyngeal tests are administered onboard Crystal Symphony,” a spokesperson Bermuda’s Ministry of Transport told the paper. “On arrival in Bermuda and following Ministry of Health guidance and protocol, the ship was quarantined while the crew and guests were tested again.”
The ship was quarantined from its arrival last Sunday until Monday afternoon. The authorities assessed the six with the positive tests and moved them, along with their 16 immediate close contacts, to an island hotel to quarantine.
The transport ministry spokeswoman added: “With the assistance of Crystal Cruises, guests who tested positive along with close contacts were transported to a local hotel for an assessment and retesting.”
“Positive guests and their immediate close contacts remain at the local hotel to complete their quarantine period and the remaining contacts who received a negative test result on Thursday were free to fly home or reboard the Crystal Symphony.” said the transport spokesperson.
A spokeswoman for Crystal explained to The Royal Gazette: “Bermuda health authorities sail aboard Crystal Symphony and during their pre-arrival in Bermuda testing for all guests and crew, five guests tested positive for Covid-19 with 14 guests identified as close contacts. Per local Bermuda health regulations, guests who tested positive, as well as close contacts, were disembarked and transferred to a local quarantine hotel designated by Bermuda health authorities.”
The Crystal spokeswoman said: “Subsequent testing resulted in one additional guest testing positive, with two guests identified as close contacts.”
“Some guests opted to fly home and Crystal is making arrangements with the US Consulate for repatriation,” said the Crystal spokeswoman. “Remaining guests who were granted permission to depart Bermuda are under strict protocols to wear face masks and observe social distancing when in public areas on Crystal Symphony during the transit back to New York City.”
The ship arrived back in New York on Friday morning — and left the same evening on its second cruise to Bermuda. The 7-day round trip cruises on the Crystal Symphony start at $2,049. The 781-foot long ship can provide its “six-star service” to 848 guests and has up to 575 crew onboard when the ship is at capacity. The next departure is planned for Friday, October 8.
Crystal’s spokeswoman stressed that breakthrough cases, in which people get affected after vaccination, are expected according to a Centres for Disease Control and Prevention study that was published in June. In August, the CDC issued new advice to recommend that travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness should avoid cruise ship travel, regardless of vaccination status.
The return of cruise ships to the piers in Hell’s Kitchen has not been welcomed by some neighbors. Local activist Leslie Boghosian Murphy wrote an op-ed in mid-September about the use of the cruise terminal to host Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady as a party boat. “To have the equivalent of a 60-story sideways skyscraper running for days in our backyard, serving as a glorified night scene is horrifying and head-scratching,” she said.