Grain Valley man celebrates 40th birthday on cruise during COVID outbreak

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GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — A Grain Valley, Missouri man celebrating a milestone birthday learned that someone previously on the ship’s charter had tested positive for the new omicron variant when they returned home.

Plus, the cruise line alerted guests that multiple passengers on his cruise tested positive for COVID-19.

For Ben Ditsch, his 40th birthday was spent aboard The Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas ship.

“We got to go to St. Martin, St. Thomas, the Bahamas,” he said.

To top it off, during his time on the ship he was able to cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs twice.

“We got to watch two Chiefs games. We had 25-30 Chiefs fans to watch the game with,” Ditsch said.

But Friday, during the home stretch of the trip, the Royal Caribbean International cruise line let guests know of a COVID-19 outbreak aboard the ship.

“They made the announcement that several passengers and crew got COVID and then they made another announcement about 5 p.m. about it,” he said. “And then I just happened to run into the person who did the testing and found out it was 35 people.”

Ditsch shared the following email that was sent to all guests on the Symphony of the Seas ship.

It reads “we were informed by the CDC that a guest who sailed on the December 4 Symphony of the Seas sailing tested positive for COVID-19 and their post cruise test results were confirmed as the omicron variant. We have a small number of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic COVID-19 cases on our December 11th cruise.”

“The captain came on, got over the intercom system and he told us exactly what was going on and that people were either taken off the ship or flown home or quarantined,” Ditsch said.

Ditsch said when he was tested on board, he tested negative. However, with Christmas just a week away, he’ll be testing again just as a precaution.

“They said on the email to go ahead and test in 3-5 days and we had a backup test so we can do it from home,” he said.

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