By Alyssa Lukpat
Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises have canceled several trips as the omicron variant continues to wreak havoc with the cruise industry.
In recent weeks, hundreds of passengers have contracted the coronavirus onboard ships, with many falling ill and spending days in quarantine.
On Friday, Royal Caribbean canceled a sailing on the ship Independence of the Seas, in response to “COVID-related circumstances around the world,” the company said on its website.
This month, the company said it had called off planned trips on three ships — Serenade of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas — and delayed the return to cruising of another, Vision of the Seas, to March.
In a statement Monday, Celebrity Cruises said it had postponed service on its Celebrity Eclipse ship. The ship was scheduled to make four trips in March and April.
The cruise industry has been battered by the pandemic. It was all but shuttered for nearly 18 months before making a comeback this past summer, but the industry has recently faced mounting criticism about its safety protocols.
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged travelers to avoid cruises, even if they had been vaccinated. The agency raised its COVID-19 warning level for cruise ships to 4, the highest level.
The move came as the number of outbreaks on ships has grown, causing some ports to turn away ships. In December, clusters broke out aboard two Royal Caribbean cruises after they left port in Florida, and more than a dozen people tested positive on a Norwegian Cruise Line vessel after it returned to New Orleans.
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises require passengers who are eligible for inoculations to receive them. Younger passengers who are not eligible must test negative before sailing.