At least five people on board the first cruise ship that set sail in the Caribbean since the pandemic began, tested positive for coronavirus just one day after the liner reported the first case.
Passengers on Sea Dream 1 were notified of the first case on board – five days after the week-long voyage began – and Captain Torbjorn Lund announced four new cases a day later, CNN reported, citing passengers.
Gene Sloan, a travel writer with The Points Guy who is on the ship, later said Lund later announced that there was “preliminary evidence” on a sixth case, but a second test was needed to confirm it.
Passengers and unnecessary crew members will be quarantined in their cabins as the ship is still docked in Barbados.
Those on board are being tested for the virus by both the ship’s doctor and the authorities in Barbados, although it is not clear how long the quarantine will last.
Five people aboard SeaDream 1 tested positive for COVID-19 just one day after the liner’s first case was announced
The SeaDream Yacht Club has confirmed that “guests” tested positive for COVID-19, but has not specified exactly how many of the 53 passengers received positive tests.
The infections are a blow to the cruise industry, which was decimated by the pandemic after travel was canceled in March due to fears of catching and spreading the virus.
Cruise ships in particular gained the reputation of a potential floating petri dish in February after a series of large outbreaks aboard liners in the early stages of the pandemic.
The Sea Dream 1’s voyage was intended to restore confidence in the industry and draw travelers with heightened safety protocols back onto liners.
Many of the passengers are journalists and travel bloggers who are invited to document the trip.
All 53 passengers, as well as non-essential crew members, are now being quarantined in their cabins on the ship that is docked in Barbados
The cruise was the first of 22 sails in the Caribbean scheduled by spring that aimed to revive the industry by attempting to create a COVID-free bubble on board.
The ship was supposed to stop on the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in Grenada.
After the initial positive test, Sloan wrote that the ship began operating assuming it had more infected passengers on board and would immediately return to its starting point in Bridgetown, Barbados.
In the meantime, the remaining passengers and 66 crew members were tested by the ship’s doctor.
Sloan reported that when the captain announced the sixth possible case, he added that a first round of testing had been negative for everyone else on board.
None of the passengers visited island cities or came into contact with locals during the layovers, Sloane said.
The travel writer Gene Sloan is one of the 53 passengers on board the Norwegian cruise ship that set sail from Barbados on Saturday and documented its journey. Pictured: crew members with masks on board
Passengers had to undergo a COVID-19 test for the trip and had to test negative three times before and during the trip. The ship also upheld social distancing guidelines in its pools, bars (pictured), and deck lounge area
Before traveling, all travelers were required to undergo a COVID-19 test, which included three separate tests.
They had to give negative results in a test carried out days before boarding, on the day of departure and three days after the sail was cast.
The rigorous testing system was designed to create a “COVID-free bubble” on the ship to ensure that the likelihood of an outbreak was extremely low.
For this reason, passengers did not initially have to wear masks on board.
However, those rules were lifted by the ship’s activity director later Monday night, Sloan said.
The ship had also followed social distancing guidelines in its pools, bars, and deck lounge area.
Limitations aside, Sloan had described the experience as “surprisingly normal” in a previous blog post.
Of the 53 passengers, 37 are Americans and the remaining 16 are from Great Britain, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.
Sloan said the captain announced Thursday that the ship was working with local authorities in Barbados to come up with a plan that would allow passengers who tested negative for coronavirus to disembark in the next few days.
You would need to get negative test results from both the ship’s doctor and the Barbados authorities first, he said.
The SeaDream 1 cruise was the first of 22 crossings the cruise line planned in the region by spring, and was scheduled to stop in the islands of Saint Vincent, Grenadines and Grenada
The outbreak came as the cruise industry took preliminary steps to restore its image after multiple coronavirus outbreaks were reported on multiple lines earlier this year, some of which were required to quarantine their passengers for weeks.
Perhaps the most famous case is the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined in Japan from February 5th to 19th.
One sick passenger ultimately led to nearly 700 infections and seven deaths from COVID-19.
The rapid spread of the virus prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a no-sail order for U.S. cruises for 30 days in mid-March.
The ban was lifted late last month and the agency issued new guidance to help companies get back to business in the next few months.
However, the ban on living did not mean the CDC allowed cruises to resume in the US as the country faces another wave of infections.
Instead, it would serve as a framework allowing the cruise industry to resume operations in phases along with the implementation of security measures.