By Praveen Paramasivam and Ananya Mariam Rajesh
(Reuters) -Carnival Corp’s Cunard cruise line said on Wednesday its Queen Mary 2 ship would skip a scheduled stop at New York and instead extend its stay in Barbados until Jan. 2 to bring in more staffers.
Cunard said its decision to add more crew members was a precautionary measure, but it did not detail why it needed more workers.
The ship, Cunard’s flagship liner named by Queen Elizabeth, is among the more than 85 vessels the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating for COVID-19 cases.
The CDC starts an investigation if 0.10% or more of passengers on guest voyages test positive for COVID-19.
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has sparked fears that the CDC may reintroduce a temporary ban on cruising, months after cruise operators resumed operations.
Queen Mary 2, the only ocean liner from Southampton to New York, left the British port city on Dec. 13 and will sail back to the United Kingdom from Barbados to ensure it reaches Southampton on Jan. 10 as planned.
“The trip started out well. The entire ship was tested on our fourth day out of the Brooklyn Red Hook port. As far as we could tell there were five or six cabins affected,” retired architect Sandy Weinberg Benjamin, who is cruising with her husband, said.
Few passengers on the 28-night voyage said the mood on Queen Mary 2 had been largely upbeat, although family members of a few guests were concerned due to connectivity issues on the liner.
Cunard said it would arrange flights for guests due to disembark in New York on Jan. 3, but Benjamin said she could not figure out how the cruise line would find flights for more than thousand guests out of Barbados.
Carnival, whose shares fell marginally, said its other brands are not canceling any cruises.
(Reporting by Ananya Mariam Rajesh and Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Maju Samuel)