Cruise Sailing Delayed by Coronavirus Checks in New Jersey

Anthem of the Seas in New York Harbor (file image)

Published Feb 7, 2020 11:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

Four Chinese passengers from the cruise ship Anthem of the Seas were sent to a hospital in New Jersey on Friday for observation after they developed flu-like symptoms under way. They were among 27 Chinese nationals on the Anthem of the Seas who boarded the vessel on January 27 and returned with the vessel to her home port at Bayonne, New Jersey on Friday. 

The 23 individuals who did not test positive for the virus will be taken to Newark Airport for a flight back to China, according to NBC News New York.

Royal Caribbean has delayed the vessel's next departure until Saturday, giving an extra day to wait for the test results on the four guests who were removed for evaluation. Anthem of the Seas will skip a port call at Nassau, and Royal Caribbean be refunding the passengers aboard the next voyage one day's worth of their fares in the form of onboard credit. 

"None of the four guests being tested by [the Centers for Disease Control] showed any clinical signs or symptoms of coronavirus. One had tested positive onboard for Influenza A. Our records indicate the guests had not been in China since January 26 - 12 days ago," the company said in a statement. 

Shortly after the incident, Royal Caribbean announced that it is upping its passenger health vetting procedures. In particular, it will no longer board anyone holding a passport from China, Hong Kong or Macau, whether passenger or crew, regardless of when they were last in the affected localities.  

In addition to Chinese passport holders, Royal Caribbean will not board: any passenger who has been in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 15 days; any passenger who has been within six feet of anyone who has been in mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 15 days; or anyone with a fever or low blood oximetry in a specialized health screening, which is mandatory for passengers who do not feel well. 

"We are closely monitoring developments regarding coronavirus and have rigorous medical protocols in place onboard our ships. We continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, the WHO, and local health authorities to align with their guidance and ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew," Royal Caribbean said in a statement. 

Norwegian Cruise Lines has issued a slightly stricter protocol for boardings: holders of passports from China, Macau or Hong Kong are no longer allowed to board, nor anyone who has been in China within the past month.