"The decision was made together with the islands out of an abundance of caution due to the current trend of COVID-19 cases in the destinations’ communities as well as crew and guests testing positive on board," the cruise line said in a statement Thursday.
The outbreak comes after Odyssey of the Seas, which set sail for an eight-night, round-trip voyage to the South Caribbean on Dec. 18, briefly returned to port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida earlier this week due to a COVID-infected passenger.
Royal Caribbean previously told FOX Business that the passenger was symptomatic prior to boarding and did not notify staff beforehand. He later reported to the ship's medical center, subsequently testing positive. The passenger and his close contacts were later forced to disembark.
Following the initial incident, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was made aware of the situation and launched their own investigation.
According to Royal Caribbean, the 55 individuals who have tested positive are fully vaccinated and mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. The cruise sailed with 95% of its onboard community fully vaccinated and the impacted individuals represent 1.1% of the onboard community.
"We continue to monitor their health," the company added. "Close contacts were also identified and placed in quarantine to be monitored for 24 hours prior to testing."
A CDC spokesperson told FOX Business on Thursday it is aware of the increase and that there have been no COVID-19 related hospitalizations, medical evacuations, ventilator use, or deaths from the ship.
The agency added that it is working with the cruise line to implement COVID-19 mitigation measures to keep its passengers and crew safe and that it will consider multiple factors before assigning the ship to red status and requiring it to return to port. The ship is currently set to return to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.
Per Royal Caribbean's policy, anyone who is at least 12 years old must be fully vaccinated and the final dose of their vaccine must be administered at least two weeks before sailing. The cruise line also "strongly" recommends that fully vaccinated guests receive a booster shot as well "when they become eligible to do so," although it's not required.
Any traveler under 12 years old must provide a negative PCR test prior to sailing and another negative at the terminal prior to boarding. Royal Caribbean's entire cruise ship staff are fully vaccinated and undergo weekly testing.
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In addition to Odyssey of the Seas, nearly 50 passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas were involved in a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this month. That ship departed on Dec. 11 and visited St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Royal Caribbean's private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, before returning to Miami on Dec. 18.
Fox Business' Daniella Genovese contributed to this report