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17 Covid Cases Found Aboard Cruise Ship in New Orleans

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More than a dozen Covid cases have been identified on a cruise ship that docked in New Orleans on Sunday, health officials said, underscoring the obstacles the cruise-line industry continues to face after more than a year of restrictions and setbacks.

Ten people aboard the Norwegian Breakaway, operated by Norwegian Cruise Line, had initially tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. But by Sunday, that number had risen to 17, health officials said. That includes one “probable case” of the Omicron variant in a crew member, they said.

The Norwegian Breakaway, carrying more than 3,200 people, departed from New Orleans on Nov. 28 and made stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico before returning to Louisiana.

Norwegian Cruise Line had been following the appropriate quarantine and isolation protocols, health officials said, adding that every passenger would be required to take a Covid test before disembarking.

The travelers who tested positive either traveled by personal vehicle directly to their homes or were self-isolating, officials said in a statement.

Norwegian Cruise Line has one of the most stringent immunization policies in the industry, requiring that all passengers, including children, and crew members take antigen tests and be fully vaccinated before boarding. Children who are not eligible for a vaccine are prohibited from traveling.

Norwegian Cruise Line did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

At the start of the pandemic, outbreaks on cruise ships that turned into major superspreader events drew headlines. Even after the vaccination rollout gained momentum in the United States in April, allowing much of the travel industry to start up again, cruise ships remained docked in ports, costing the industry billions of dollars in losses each month.

By the summer, a comeback was in full swing, with many cruise companies reporting an increase in bookings and a better handle on Covid-19 protocols. But a recent surge in Covid cases in parts of the United States and in Europe, and growing concerns over the Omicron variant, may slow that momentum.

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