One of the luxury SeaDream yacht cruise ships moored in the Caribbean (photo courtesy SeaDream Yacht Club)
The Caribbean is taking its first steps to resume cruising after more than six months since the pandemic forced the cessation of the vital tourism industry. Luxury yacht cruise line SeaDream Yacht Club prepares to launch what will likely be the first cruises to the Caribbean.
SeaDream announces plans to ship its 112-passenger luxury cruise ship SeaDream 1 to Barbados for 22 mainly seven-day cruises to Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It will also be the first time since the pandemic broke out that cruises will be marketed in both the US and Europe.
These cruises take place after SeaDream launched a successful summer program of cruises from Norway. With just six weeks planning ahead, SeaDream announced that it would move one of its two yacht cruise ships to Norway in the summer. The program was so well received that the company decided to send both ships to Norway for the summer season.
After just over seven weeks of preparation, the company plans to bring one of its ships back to the Caribbean for a program that begins November 7, 2020 and runs through April 2021. Full details of the program are currently being uploaded to the company’s website with the official announcement expected next week.
SeaDream highlights the success of its health protocols during the summer cruise season. Operations went smoothly and when a former passenger who was asymptomatic when he returned to Denmark had a potentially positive COVID-19 test, they report that their protocols were implemented as planned. The SeaDream 1 was temporarily taken out of service. All passengers and crew members tested negative for the virus, and in a later test, the former passenger also tested negative.
According to Emilio Freeman, vice president of itineraries and destinations at SeaDream, the only expected restrictions will be largely controlled by Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. As the cruises will not sail from the US and will not come under the jurisdiction of the US CDC due to the small size of the ships. However, the company will continue to implement its health protocols to ensure the safety of its passengers and crew, as well as the ports that the cruise ship visits.
Barbados requires all arriving passengers to have a valid COVID-19 test result, which Freeman says must be given no later than 72 hours prior to arrival. He says the requirement is regardless of whether the person is arriving from a high, medium or low risk country. If the guest arrives with an old test or no test, Barbados reserves the right not to allow the individual to enter Barbados. SeaDream also requires that all guests agree to a COVID-19 test at the pier prior to boarding.
The Grenadines and Grenada also prevent guests from going ashore. All guests who want to go ashore are only allowed to do so in organized groups to pre-determined beach and land areas, as described by these two countries.
So far, SeaDream is the only cruise line to have launched a winter cruise program for the Caribbean, although several other lines are reportedly considering the possibility of programs. Some of the ports in the Caribbean have remained closed so far with no expectation of cruise ships to return before 2021.
Other islands seem more willing to work with the cruise lines when they can resume operations. The Bahamas, a popular destination for Florida-based cruise lines in particular, recently announced that it will be working with the cruise companies that operate private islands to allow cruises to these islands without visiting Nassau first. The Bahamas Minister of Tourism indicated that cruises to the private islands could be an intermediate step in resuming service before cruises resume visits to the capital, Nassau.