The first cruise ship to set sail in the Caribbean since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has returned to its home port in Barbados with all of its passengers and much of its crew isolated in their cabins.
The action came after a passenger on SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream 1 received a preliminary positive test for COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to Gene Sloan, a passenger and reporter on the trip documenting his travels for The Points Guy. As of Friday, November 13, at least five passengers have tested positive, the Associated Press reports.
“After completing a successful summer season in Norway, we implemented even stricter health and safety protocols for our Barbados winter season,” SeaDream’s Andreas Brynestad said in a statement. “We are working closely with local health and government authorities to resolve this situation in the best possible way. Our main priority is the health and safety of our crew, guests, and the communities we visit.”
Sloan wrote that passengers were informed of the incident by the ship’s captain via an intercom announcement Wednesday afternoon. The ship was anchored off the coast of Union Island in the Grenadines at the time.
There are just 53 passengers and 66 crew members aboard the small cruise ship. It has a capacity for 112 passengers and 95 crew members. Because there aren't more than 250 people on board, the ship is able to stay within CDC guidelines and sail in U.S. territorial waters.
The ship headed back to Barbados, where it began its voyage on Saturday. All crew members were re-tested upon reaching Barbados, and all tests were negative. Passengers are all being retested as well.
SeaDream is waiting for authorization from the Barbados government before anyone disembarks the ship, Brynestad said.
SeaDream had required passengers to run a gauntlet of COVID-19 testing before boarding SeaDream 1, Sloan wrote. Passengers were required to test negative several days before boarding and again on Saturday to reduce the chances that anybody on board could contract the virus.
The trip was the first of 22 planned cruises by SeaDream, all starting in Barbados. The six-day and eight-day cruises are scheduled to stop in Grenada and a variety of ports in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Sailing during these times undoubtedly presents some new challenges,” Brynestad said in September in announcing the cruises. “But as the first luxury line to begin sailing again, we have learned many lessons and are confident we can provide a safe environment without sacrificing luxury.”
Part of that confidence stemmed from the company having a successful summer season in Norway, which SeaDream said included no positive tests.
U.S. cruise lines had been planning to resume operations in December, but last week said the delay would extend through at least the end of the year.
“Our members are 100 percent committed to helping to protect the health of our guests, our crew, and the communities we serve,” Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement. “We will continue to evolve our approach as circumstances evolve.”