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Positive COVID tests force cruise ship back to San Diego

Cruise ship
Posted at 4:15 PM, Dec 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-25 19:15:07-05

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Turned away by Mexican authorities due to positive employee COVID-19 tests, a cruise ship scheduled to stop in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico was forced to return to San Diego, it was reported Saturday.

Mexican officials said about 21 crew members aboard the Koningsdam cruise ship operated by Holland America tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 23 when the ship arrived in port at Puerto Vallarta, NBC7 reported.

According to Mexico's Ministry of Health, only one positive test was found among the fully vaccinated crew before the ship departed Dec. 19 from San Diego. The ship had stopped at Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan before more active cases were detected on board Dec. 23.

A Holland America spokesperson said a small number of the cruise ship's employees, all of whom were fully vaccinated, tested positive for the virus with mild symptoms. They were in isolation and their close contacts were quarantining, the cruise line said.

The virus outbreak led to Mexican authorities not allowing Koningsdam's 1,000-plus passengers to disembark, causing the ship to leave port and reverse course for San Diego.

"Due to a last-minute notification from authorities that guests would not be permitted ashore, the ship departed and will return to San Diego to arrive in two days as scheduled," Holland America said in a statement provided to NBC7. "Guests were notified and continue to enjoy activities aboard the vessel."

The cruise line said Koningsdam's itinerary had two days of travel at sea scheduled after leaving Puerto Vallarta.

Holland America said COVID protocols, including mask wearing by guests and staff indoors as well as routine disinfecting, are required aboard all its cruise ships. Patrons and staff are required to be fully vaccinated, and to provide a negative COVID-19 test, before being allowed to board ships.

After a lengthy pandemic pause, ocean cruises resumed in San Diego County in October.