Swine Flu Update: Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship Docks in St. Thomas

June 11, 2009
Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas (12:18 p.m.) -- Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas was allowed to dock in St. Thomas today -- a day after being denied entry to two Caribbean ports because three people onboard exhibited flu-like symptoms. The news coincides with the World Health Organization's declaration that H1N1, the virus formerly known as swine flu, had become a worldwide pandemic.

Two crewmembers and one passenger on Adventure of the Seas are being tested for H1N1. Results of the tests have not been released, and all three remain in quarantine.

On Wednesday, the Port of St. Lucia refused entry to Adventure of the Seas after becoming aware of the possible flu cases onboard. The ship then requested an early docking in Antigua, where it was scheduled to call today, but was again turned away by the port authorities. After spending yesterday at sea, the vessel was allowed to call in St. Thomas. Royal Caribbean spokesperson Cynthia Martinez tells us that passengers were allowed to disembark in St. Thomas without special conditions, such as flu screening.

The next scheduled calls are St. Maarten on Friday and St. Croix on Saturday. The cruise is set to end in San Juan on Sunday. Cruise Critic has been in touch with all three ports, but none have confirmed whether or not they'll allow the ship entry. For its part, Royal Caribbean has yet to finalize Adventure of the Seas' itinerary for the coming days.

There have been conflicting reports about whether the three cases have been confirmed as swine flu. Martinez tells Cruise Critic that Adventure of the Seas is equipped to test only for influenza A -- so swabs had to be sent to a lab in Trinidad capable of testing for H1N1, and those test results have yet to be released. "One of the reasons St. Lucia didn't want us to visit was the lab results weren't in," she added. But Colin James, chief executive officer for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, told Cruise Critic yesterday that the cases had been confirmed for H1N1.

This latest case is reminiscent of the recent P&O Australia cruise that was actually cut short after three crewmembers tested positive for H1N1. Several ports in a row turned away Pacific Dawn, forcing the ship to spend several days at sea and end the cruise three days early. No passengers ultimately tested positive for H1N1, and Pacific Dawn is back sailing its originally scheduled itinerary. According to Ron Healey, passenger onboard Pacific Dawn's current cruise, "There have been no problems on board at all as far as health issues."

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor