Sunday, 17 January, 2021


COVID exploded on the first cruise ship to restart in the Caribbean

SeaDream Yacht Club features small ship sailings Royal Caribbean possibly looking for volunteers for 'simulated cruises' to test COVID protocols
Kristine Garrett | 14 November, 2020, 01:57

After the order expired at the end of October, the industry graduated from an outright ban on sailing in the U.S.to a conditional sail order, in which cruise brands will have to prove to regulators that the proper protocols are in place to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Most major cruise lines including Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises have suspended any planned sailings until at least 2021 as they concoct a plan to resume sailing safely amid the global pandemic.

There are even more cases of COVID-19 aboard that first cruise ship to venture into the Caribbean since March. Since then, a total of six passengers have tested positive, according to Gene Sloan, a cruise writer who is on board.

The winter programme comprises weekly cruises from Barbados, with stops in St Vincent, The Grenadines, Grenada and the Tobago Cays.

The Norway-based SeaDream Yacht Club, the ship's parent company, wouldn't say how many passengers tested positive in the initial round of testing.

Passengers were told to return to their cabins, he reported, noting that there were 53 passengers and 66 crew on the vessel anchored off the Grenadines.

Guests onboard the 112-passenger ship have publicly reported that the captain took to the ship's public address system on Wednesday to advise that one passenger was feeling unwell and suspected of having COVID-19.

Extensive, multi-layer testing for COVID-19 has been an integral part of SeaDream's efforts to create a COVID-19 negative bubble aboard its ships. At each location stop, Sloan said passengers were instructed not to interact with locals and were shuttled to empty beaches and resorts.

Each passenger on board had to test negative for the virus several days before boarding and again on the day of boarding.

'The ship's medical staff has tested all crew members and all tests have come back negative.

However, those rules were later overturned by the ship's activity director on Monday evening, Sloan said.

"All guests were tested twice prior to embarkation and we are in the process of re-testing guests." said SeaDream's executive vice president Andreas Brynestad in a statement.

Carrying fewer than 250 guests outside of US waters allows SeaDream to operate outside of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's orders around cruising. Another round of tests is said to be underway shoreside in Barbados.

The SeaDream 1 voyage is being closely watched by the industry as cruise companies work to meet the new CDC requirements.

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