Royal Caribbean cruise ship finally departs New Jersey following coronavirus tests, sails different itinerary

Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas cruise ship has finally departed from Bayonne, N.J., after docking on Friday morning to screen dozens of passengers for the novel coronavirus.

The ship was originally scheduled to leave port Saturday but Royal Caribbean later said that it was pushing the departure to Monday following an update from the CDC, explaining that an additional 24 to 48 hours were needed to complete testing.

The ship eventually departed on Monday afternoon.

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A total of 27 passengers were tested for coronavirus upon arrival on Friday morning, with four being sent for additional screenings at a local hospital.

The passengers, believed to be Chinese nationals, had been kept in isolation aboard the Anthem of the Seas before docking at the port, according to sources for the New York Post.

"Like airlines, we are participating in elevated levels of guest screening to check the spread of coronavirus," a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean said in a statement provided to Fox News on Friday morning. "We are closely monitoring developments regarding coronavirus and have rigorous medical protocols in place onboard our ships. We continue to work in close consultation with the CDC, the WHO, and local health authorities to align with their guidance and ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew."

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy had confirmed on Friday that 23 of the tested passengers had been cleared. On Saturday, he shared news that the four passengers sent for further testing had tested negative for coronavirus.

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All 23 of the passengers screened earlier were escorted to nearby Newark Liberty International Airport to catch flights back to China, USA Today reported.

On Monday, Royal Caribbean announced that the Anthem of the Seas would also be sailing a revised itinerary due to the late departure — it will head to Bermuda and return to New Jersey on Saturday, rather than sailing to Florida and the Bahamas.

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In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Royal Caribbean also announced Friday that travelers with passports from China, Hong Kong or Macau would be prohibited from getting aboard its ships. On Monday, Royal Caribbean ended this travel restriction, instead imposing a restriction on passengers who have traveled to, through or from China within the last 15 days.

“We are closely monitoring global developments regarding the coronavirus, and we are fully focused on protecting the health and safety of our guests and crew,” the cruise line said.