Three Small Cruise Ships Have Known COVID-19 Cases On Board

Silver Explorer (file image courtesy Silversea)

Published Mar 16, 2020 8:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

Though the cruise industry has broadly canceled or delayed future voyages due to the risk of coronavirus, many cruise ships are still under way and are winding down their itineraries. Three have known coronavirus cases on board, adding to the previous incidents aboard Diamond Princess and Grand Princess.

In addition to the known coronavirus cases aboard the Fred. Olsen vessel Braemar, which is currently under way for a port of refuge in Cuba, two Silversea Cruises vessels have been quarantined in Latin America. 

Silver Shadow

In Pernambuco, Brazil, health authorities decided to hold the cruise ship Silver Shadow in quarantine at the port of Recife last Thursday after a passenger developed coronavirus symptoms. The individual, a 78-year-old man, has tested positive. He was disembarked and taken to a local hospital. 

Over 600 passengers remain on board.“We have asked guests on the ships to temporarily remain in their cabins in accordance with our medical isolation protocols," a spokesperson for operator Silversea told The Guardian. 

As in previous quarantines, meals are being delivered for passengers and placed outside of their rooms. “It’s really nothing to complain about,” said passenger Doug Bernstein, speaking to the Naples Daily News. “This ship is amazing. The crew have been fabulous, both in terms of impeccable service and caution.”

"The atmosphere is peaceful, the guests remain in their cabins and the only different situation is that the vessel will receive drinking water and will remove solid and liquid waste today. All under the supervision of [health officials]," said Olimar Cardoso dos Santos, regional coordinator for Brazil's National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa). 

Silver Explorer

The Silversea vessel Silver Explorer has been quarantined at the port of Chacabuco, Chile after an 83-year-old passenger from the UK tested positive for COVID-19. The individual has been evacuated to a nearby hospital, and Chilean health minister Jaime Manalich told media that the man was in good condition. 

The quarantine comes as Chile implements strict restrictions on movement: the nation has closed its borders to foreign nationals, though cargo operations will continue as before. "We've decided to close all our country's terrestrial, maritime and aerial borders for the transit of foreigners," announced Chile's President Sebastian Pinera at a press conference on Monday. 


In addition to the known cases aboard Braemar, Silver Shadow and Silver Explorer, other vessels have encountered delays and precautionary measures as port state officials move to control possible coronavirus risks. 

Chile's decision to close its borders Monday had an immediate effect for the Holland America cruise ship Zaandam, which has no known or suspected cases on board. "Despite a positive outlook for disembarking Zaandam guests today at Punta Arenas, Chile, we were not allowed to do so by local authorities. Therefore, the ship departed the port this evening and is now en route to San Antonio, Chile, for a service call to take on fuel and other provisions," Holland America said in a statement. "Our Seattle headquarters and the ship are working with several governments and embassies on options for where to disembark guests."

Aboard the Golden Princess, three passengers have been quarantined aboard with respiratory symptoms; one individual was tested and returned a negative result for the virus. There are no known cases on board, and Golden Princess has been cleared to sail. She is now making her way to Australia.

Norwegian Jewel canceled port calls in Tahiti and Fiji after she was denied permission to enter, and she is now anchored off Suva. "We are actively working to find an alternative port and are communicating with guests regularly as we have further information,” operator NCL said in a statement. The vessel has no known or suspected cases on board. 


The Costa Luminosa is currently under way for Marseilles after a transatlantic voyage from the Caribbean, and passengers have expressed concern that she may have positive cases on board. Three passengers from the current voyage have been disembarked and have since tested positive for the disease.

On February 29, one Costa Luminosa passenger was medevaced to the Cayman Islands after developing symptoms of a stroke. He later tested positive for COVID-19, and on Saturday he died, according to the Miami Herald. 

On March 8, two more passengers were disembarked in Puerto Rico, and they have also tested positive for COVID-19. The vessel was then refused entry to Antigua and headed onwards to her next port of call, the Canary Islands, a weeklong voyage across the Atlantic. Upon arrival she disembarked three more ill passengers (their test status has not been reported). 

Costa Luminosa is now headed onwards for Marseilles, where she is due to arrive Thursday. Non-Italian guests are expected to be allowed to disembark, according to a letter provided to passengers and shared on social media. Photos and accounts provided by passengers currently on board the ship indicate that quarantine measures have been implemented.