(CMR) SeaDream Yacht Club has canceled the remaining cruises scheduled for 2020 after a disastrous attempt last week to resume cruises in the Caribbean lead to several COVID-19 positive cases on board. This was the first cruise vessel to resume sailing in the Caribbean after the pandemic shut down in March after getting permission from the Barbados health authorities.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Norwegian-owned cruise line operator confirmed the decision after seven passengers and two crew members tested positive for COVID-19. Passengers on the ship have now been quarantined and the cruise ended early after the outbreak. They shared:
“Multiple negative PCR tests were required before the guests boarded, but this was not sufficient to prevent Covid-19 onboard”.
The cruise line attempted to introduce strict measures but in the end, admitted that those were not sufficient to keep the infections at bay. Multiple negative PCR tests were required before guests boarded. A first test was given 72-hours before their flight and a second one by the cruise line's doctors at the dock before boarding.
Testing aside, social distancing was required and tables, chairs, loungers and bar stools were separated. The gym was open but you have to book your slot in advance. Hand sanitizer was everywhere. Temperatures were checked daily and cabins sanitized with UV light every day. Masks were required at night; which was a new measure implemented.
However halfway through the cruise a passenger fell ill and asked for an additional test which was positive on November 11. Five out of six members of a west coast American family all tested positive and the entire ship was put into quarantine.
The crew originally tested negative as of November 12 but when a sixth passenger out of the family group tested positive the testing was redone. The ship returned to Barbados for additional testing of all crew and passengers. His wife also tested positive and two crew members eventually returned positive test results as well.
Passengers who tested positive were allowed to return home via a private flight on Saturday, November 14.
The ship embarked from Barbados on November 7 to prove safe cruise travel was possible if enough precautions were taken. The vessel included bloggers and journalists meant to chronicle the success of the voyage.
The ship has already called on St. Vincent, Canouan, The Tobago Cays and Union Islands which included “carefully orchestrated bubble excursions” with no contact with locals.
The superyacht had 112 guests and 95 crew onboard – being a smaller capacity vessel allows it to operate outside of the CDC orders.
The sailing had a mix of nationalities, including passengers from Austria, Denmark, Germany and Sweden. Ten people are from the United Kingdom; six of those had been on the previous crossing, Bryant said. There are 37 Americans, all of whom embarked the ship in Barbados on November 7.
Members of Congress are calling for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to re-instate its “no-sail” order which expired at the end of October. Objectors have argued that the conditional sailing order now in place is putting American lives at risk and potentially spreading the virus further.