One of the first cruise lines to sail through Caribbean waters since the pandemic began prematurely ended its trip after at least five passengers tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Thursday.
The SeaDream I carries 66 crew members and more than 50 passengers, with the majority of passengers being from the US, according to Sue Bryant, who is on board the ship and is the cruise editor for The Times and The Sunday Times in the UK.
She told The Associated Press that a passenger fell ill on Wednesday and forced the ship to return to Barbados, where it departed on Saturday. However, the ship still had to dock in Barbados as local authorities had tested those on board. The captain announced that at least five passengers tested positive, Bryant said.
The incident marked the first time SeaDream resumed its trips to the West Indies since the pandemic. The ship was originally scheduled to return to Barbados on Saturday, according to an online itinerary. The ship had made several stops in St. Vincent and the Grenadines before turning back.
Norway-based SeaDream Yacht Club, the ship’s parent company, wouldn’t say how many passengers tested positive in the first round of testing.
Bryant said passengers needed a negative PCR test to enter Barbados and had to undergo another test at the ship’s doctor-managed dock.
“We all felt very safe,” she said, adding that the ship had strict hygiene protocols in place. “But somehow COVID seems to have come on board.”
SeaDream said the ship’s medical staff had tested all crew members and tested all negative. The company also said it is currently retesting all guests and finding that they are all in quarantine, along with non-essential crew members.
“We are working closely with local health and government agencies to best resolve this situation,” said SeaDream. “Our top priority is the health and safety of our crew, guests and the communities we visit.”
Government officials in Barbados did not return any comments.
In Caribbean waters, cruise lines have been largely robbed this year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspended cruises in U.S. ports in mid-March. The No-Sail order expired on October 31st.
Last week, the Cruise Lines International Association, which accounts for 95% of the world’s growing sea cruises capacity, announced that its members will be voluntarily ceasing cruises in the US through December 31st.
SeaDream was one of the first cruise companies to resume service in Europe. In August, the company reported that an asymptomatic passenger had tested positive for the coronavirus after disembarking from SeaDream I in Denmark. All other passengers and crew members tested negative, the company said.
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