Carnival cruise from Miami skips ports because of COVID cases

Carnival Freedom out of Miami had stops in Bonaire and Aruba canceled because of what the line says are "a small number on board who are in isolation due to a positive COVID test."

MIAMI – A Carnival Cruise Line voyage out of Miami is the latest banned from some Caribbean ports because of COVID-19 cases onboard.

The Carnival Freedom, which left on an 8-day trip Saturday, had stops in Bonaire and Aruba canceled. The line said it would instead make a stop at Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic on Friday before returning to Port Miami on Sunday.

Carnival did not reveal how many people on board tested positive. The ship has 2,497 passengers and 1,112 crew members.

“Carnival Freedom is following all protocols and has a small number on board who are in isolation due to a positive COVID test,” the Miami-based company said in a statement. “Our protocols anticipate this possibility and we implement them as necessary to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew. This is a vaccinated cruise and all guests were also tested before embarkation. Unfortunately, Bonaire and Aruba authorities did not permit the ship to call in those ports.”

Ashley Peterson, a passenger on the ship, tweeted a photo of a Dec. 22 letter from the ship’s captain apologizing for being unable to make the stops in Aruba and Bonaire. The letter said passengers would get $100 per room in onboard credit and refunds for excursions planned at the two stops.

“We know these unexpected changes are disappointing and impact your cruise vacation, however we trust you understand this is outside our control,” said the letter from Capt. Mario Imbimbo.

This week, a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Fort Lauderdale couldn’t make scheduled stops in Curaçao and Aruba because of 50+ COVID positives. And last Saturday, another Royal Caribbean ship arrived back in Miami after 48 people tested positive for COVID-19.

Carnival noted in its statement that this may be a new reality for cruises as the contagious omicron variant drives infections.

“The rapid spread of the omicron variant may shape how some destination authorities view even a small number of cases, even when they are being managed with our vigorous protocols,” Carnival said. “Some destinations have limited medical resources and are focused on managing their own local response to the variant. Should it be necessary to cancel a port, we will do our best to find an alternative destination.”