Norwegian Cruise Ship Sets Sail Again After Docking With COVID-Infected Travelers, Crew

A Norwegian Cruise Line ship that recently had a COVID-19 outbreak is back on the sea, bringing aboard new passengers after its docking Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

The ship's previous cruise contained 17 people infected with the coronavirus: eight passengers and nine crew members, according to a Louisiana Department of Health spokeswoman on Monday.

Many were worried about the small outbreak as the cruise ship, the Breakaway, had recently made stops in Mexico, Honduras and Belize before its return.

The cruise line welcomed new passengers to the ship on Sunday, making sure they had no COVID-19 symptoms and were fully vaccinated. The ship also had safety protocols in place.

"Guests who opt to sail must wear masks while indoors except while actively eating or drinking and will be tested twice during the cruise," a statement from the cruise line said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Cruise Ship
A Norwegian Cruise Line ship that recently had a COVID outbreak is back on sea, bringing aboard new passengers after its docking Sunday. An aerial view from a drone shows the cruise ship Coral Princess after it docked at Port Miami on April 04, 2020 in Miami, Florida. Reports indicate that there are passengers and crew members aboard that have tested positive for COVID-19. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The cruise line said all passengers who boarded the Norwegian Breakaway on Sunday were offered a chance to cancel without penalty. The company did not immediately respond to questions about whether any did cancel or how many passengers the ship now carries.

The Breakaway can carry up to 3,963 passengers. Its Caribbean route from New Orleans includes Cozumel and Costa Maya in Mexico; Roatán, in the Bay Islands of Honduras; and Harvest Caye, Belize.

An earlier statement from Norwegian Cruise Line said that any passengers who tested positive would either drive themselves home or "self-isolate in accommodations provided by the company."

Some people who left the ship on Sunday told WVUE-TV that they had been told that people on board had tested positive for COVID-19, but others said they hadn't.

Don Canole of North Carolina said he got first word from overhearing the station's interview with someone nearby. "It would have been nice to have known. We would have taken maybe a few more precautions," he said.

Passengers said they were tested for COVID-19 exposure on Saturday. The cruise line also gave passengers take-home rapid tests as they left the ship, according to WVUE.

Cruise ships were an early source of outbreaks at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, and some ships were rejected at ports and passengers were forced into quarantine. The CDC issued a no-sail order in March 2020, prompting a standstill that ended last June as cruise ships began to leave U.S. ports with new health and safety requirements.