3rd Florida-based ship has outbreak as state cases rise

Employees of Nomi Health check in a long line of people for COVID-19 tests, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, in North Miami, Fla. The omicron variant has unleashed a fresh round of fear and uncertainty, for travelers, shoppers and party-goers around the U.S. Credit: AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

A COVID-19 outbreak took place on a South Florida-based cruise ship for the third time this week, as the number of coronavirus cases in Florida hit its second-highest level since the start of the pandemic.

An undisclosed number of passengers and crew aboard the Carnival Freedom cruise caught the virus so the ship was denied entry to Bonaire and Aruba, Carnival said in a statement.

The ship has 2,497 passengers and 1,112 crew members and was scheduled to return to Miami on Sunday following an 8-day cruise. Passengers were required to be vaccinated and they were tested before leaving last Saturday, according to Carnival.

“Carnival Freedom is following all protocols and has a small number on board who are in isolation due to a positive COVID test,” the statement said. “Our protocols anticipate this possibility and we implement them as necessary to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew.”

Ashley Peterson, a passenger on the ship, tweeted a photo of a Dec. 22 letter from the ship’s captain apologizing for being unable to make the stops in Aruba and Bonaire. The letter said passengers would get $100 per room in onboard credit and refunds for excursions planned at the two stops.

“We know these unexpected changes are disappointing and impact your cruise vacation, however we trust you understand this is outside our control,” said the letter from Capt. Mario Imbimbo.

It was the third outbreak this week affecting cruise ships operated by Carnival and Royal Caribbean departing Miami and Fort Lauderdale ports.

Meanwhile, Florida had 26,811 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the second-highest daily number since the start of the pandemic in the U.S. in March 2020, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The highest was in last August when 27,802 cases were reported.

27 people aboard Carnival cruise test positive for COVID-19

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