A passenger who was kicked off a Royal Caribbean International cruise after testing positive for COVID-19 on board said she doesn’t have the virus.
On July 7, the company removed Laura Angelo, 57, and her travel partner from the Freedom of the Seas ship in Nassau, The Bahamas, and flew them home to the U.S. after Angelo tested positive for COVID-19 during the second day of the cruise. Angelo’s COVID-19 test results shared with the Herald show Angelo tested negative at least two times after she returned home to New York City.
Both Angelo and her travel partner were unvaccinated and said that the cruise company mislabeled them as vaccinated during the boarding process in Miami, mistakenly giving them purple wristbands meant for vaccinated passengers, which allowed them to skip an embarkation day test in the terminal required for unvaccinated passengers. A vaccinated passenger on the July 5 Freedom of the Seas cruise confirmed to the Herald that the purple bracelets were meant for vaccinated passengers.
When the company realized its error on July 6, the ship’s medical staff tested Angelo and her travel partner, and Angelo’s test came back positive. In a 20-minute video streamed live on Facebook as she was being put off the boat, Angelo angrily railed against Royal Caribbean as crew members in full protective suits escorted her off the ship in Nassau. The company flew both passengers home on July 7.
In the video, Angelo says that she believed the cruise line’s test was wrong because she had had COVID in March. Angelo said that according to her doctor and blood tests she had a high level of antibodies against the virus because of that earlier infection.
In the days following her return to New York City, Angelo got at least two COVID-19 PCR tests, according to copies of the results provided to the Herald. Both came back negative. Angelo also tested negative two days before the cruise on July 3, according to results shared with the Herald, and gave those results to the check-in agent at PortMiami during the boarding process.
The experience has left Angelo skeptical about the accuracy of the ship’s testing.
“How ironic that they gave us the wrong bracelet and that test came back positive, that’s baffling to me,” she said. “I just wish they would own it...everyone makes mistakes.”
Royal Caribbean Group spokesperson Jonathon Fishman did not respond to multiple requests for comment about how the passengers were misidentified as vaccinated and not required to take the embarkation day test.