Passengers Await Direction on Caribbean Cruise Suspended by COVID-19

passenger await direction of suspended Caribbean cruise
Passenger enjoying water activities on a previous SeaDream cruise - photo courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club

Published Nov 13, 2020 8:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Caribbean’s first cruise in more than seven months remains suspended while the company and local officials work to manage the reported outbreak of the coronavirus and keep the passengers comfortable. The situation remains fluid with the passengers reporting they are being well looked after but waiting for more definitive word on what will transpire.

SeaDream Yacht Club, owners of the cruise ship SeaDream 1, issued a statement saying that the company was working closely with local officials. The line said the cruise had been paused and the ship returned to Barbados, “after guests’ tests for Covid-19 returned assumptive positive results.” SeaDream equipped the ship with testing equipment in advance of the cruises and reports that it has again tested all crew members and all tests have come back negative. 

Bloggers and reporters who were aboard the first Caribbean cruise have independently been posting messages on the situation and relaying notices and announcements from the ship. Currently, all of the passengers and also non-essential crew “are in quarantine in their staterooms in an abundance of caution,” the line reports. Passengers were permitted to go on deck for fresh air this afternoon wearing face masks and in controlled circumstances. Everyone was asked to maintain social distancing. Meals are being served to passengers in their suites.

The situation began on November 11 while the ship was anchored at Union Island. A passenger reported that they were not feeling well and a rapid test came back positive for the virus. The ship and cruise line immediately implemented its health protocols asking passengers to return to their suites while additional testing was commenced. SeaDream reports it is following all protocols recommended by the health authorities.  

The line has not confirmed the number of positive tests and reports are varying from the ship. Some have said five positive results, later increased to six with the traveling companion of one of the individuals. Unconfirmed reports suggest it might have increased to seven of the 53 passengers aboard and one passenger may have been taken to a hospital.

Some reports suggest that the passengers may have to undergo a further quarantine. SeaDream in its statement said that it is awaiting authorization from the Barbados government to disembark guests safely. Passengers aboard the ship include Americans as well as British and European nationals.

The situation has drawn worldwide attention and broad media coverage. Late today a group of U.S. congressmen sent a letter according to the newspaper USA Today to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling for the no sail order to be immediately reinstated. According to the newspaper, the congressmen are citing the outbreak on the Sea Dream 1 and the CDC’s statements about the risk aboard cruise ships saying it is too soon to transition to the conditional order to sail.

SeaDream is highlighting its cooperation with the authorities while also saying that they had tightened protocols further after the summer season in Norway and before the Caribbean cruises. Passengers had to test negative before leaving home and again before boarding the ship. Some are saying that this sense of security might have permitted some people to relax their precautions. At the beginning of the cruise, the line was not requiring the use of face covers, but at the beginning of the week changed that asking passengers to observe the additional precaution as well as continuing to maintain social distancing.