4 crew on RCI-Royal Caribbean’s ship Independence of the Seas have recently tested COVID-positive, and over 2 dozen other crew are in quarantine, Galveston County Health District revealed.
The infections caused the CDC to put the vessel under tighter monitoring procedures 12 days before Independence OTS was supposed to start a test voyage from Port Galveston Texas.
Galveston County Local Health Authority Philip Keiser confirmed the COVID cases on Tuesday, July 20.
The infected all are asymptomatic. It is not clear whether they were vaccinated.
The health district has not confirmed whether cases on the ship were caused by the delta variant.
The confirmation came a day after the CDC updated its cruise-tracking web portal to indicate it had increased the monitoring of Independence of the Seas due to COVID-19 infection. On Monday, the Centers changed the status of Independence of the Seas from green to orange. The CDC uses a 4-color system to track the status of liners that are working to return to business following a 16-month shutdown caused by the pandemic.
Ships without Coronavirus cases are noted as green and are given the go-ahead to sail with passengers. Ships listed as yellow/orange in the system have reported COVID cases and are closely monitored as they continue to make preparations. Vessels with a red status are not allowed to sail.
The orange status means that at least 1 crew member aboard Independence of the Seas tested positive in the past 7 days and less than 1% of the crew have tested positive. The Centers will begin an investigation in case more than 1% of crew report infections.
Independence OTS returned to the port of Galveston on June 2. Since then, she has carried only Royal Caribbean employees to make preparations for a return to business.
For more Independence of the Seas accidents and incidents see the ship's CruiseMinus page.