By Shannon McMahon
The first cruise in the Caribbean since March has halted its journey after passengers tested for the coronavirus “returned assumptive positive results” on Wednesday, yachting company SeaDream said in a news release.
The cruising ship, the SeaDream I, returned to port in Barbados on Wednesday after administering rapid tests on all passengers as part of its routine testing protocol, which requires testing before and during the journey.
The reported outbreak is a major setback for the cruise industry, which has been touting testing as a path to the return to sea.
“Immediately after performing the preliminary rapid Covid test onboard and receiving the assumptive positive results, SeaDream advised local health authorities and set in motion its Covid response protocols to protect guests and crew,” SeaDream said in its statement. “The ship’s medical staff has tested all crew members and all tests have come back negative. SeaDream is currently retesting all guests.”
SeaDream has not responded to requests for comment on how many confirmed cases there are. Around 53 passengers and 66 crew are onboard, according to the Points Guy’s Gene Sloan, who is on the ship.
Travel writers and influencers onboard to cover the SeaDream I’s return to the Caribbean were tweeting Wednesday about one positive case and said they were quarantining in their cabins. Sloan tweeted that the ship had not been requiring masks of crew and passengers.
UPDATE from #SeaDream 1: We are now expected back in @Barbados around 10 PM. Health authorities to board and likely will test all crew and passengers for #covid late tonight or tomorrow morning. More new details added to my original story here: https://t.co/LeKR0ybwaQ
— Gene Sloan (@CruiseLog) November 11, 2020
“All guests and non-essential crew members are in quarantine in their staterooms in an abundance of caution,” SeaDream said in its statement. “SeaDream is awaiting authorization from the Barbados government to disembark guests safely.”
The ship had been sailing since Saturday and called to port at private beaches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines since then.
The vessel is not subject to rules by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention banning passenger cruises until further notice because it is not operating in U.S. waters.
The CDC’s new protocols require the major cruise lines to perform mock cruises with volunteer passengers onboard. There is no timeline for that phase, but Royal Caribbean said Thursday it is beginning to gather volunteers. An official Royal Caribbean-made Facebook group dedicated to volunteering for the simulated voyages had gained 17,400 members as of 7:30 p.m. Thursday.