Will The COVID-19 Outbreak Onboard Sea Dream 1 Set Back American Sailings?
A total of seven passengers that were sailing onboard the SeaDream 1 have tested positive for Covid-19.
The SeaDream Yacht Club cruise was the first to return to the Caribbean since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered all cruises back in March of this year.
The cruise was to test the waters in terms of new precautions in the wake of the pandemic. The guests all knew the risks associated with this test cruise but it is a huge setback in the restart of cruises.
The voyage was meant to demonstrate that increased safety protocols, including regular testing aboard the ship, could allow cruise voyages to take place during the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set forth recommendations that cruise lines must follow and prove they are following before they can set sail again.
Cruise lines must set sail on test cruises without passengers and then can seek volunteers to serve as “test subjects” for the first voyages with passengers. That was what SeaDream 1 was doing.
SeaDream 1’s winter voyages from Barbados started on November 7. They took on new passengers following their initial send off, which we find odd.
When you are trying to maintain a clean and controlled environment it makes no sense to allow additional passengers that are from an uncontrolled environment.
The postive COVID-19 cases originated from the passengers allowed on after the original sailing. Had they not allowed those passengers on the ship, the chances that COVID-19 joined the sailing would be far less.
This was not the first sailing for SeaDream 1 but it was the first in the Caribbean. The other cruises in Norway “resulted in zero positive cases during the entire Norwegian summer season.”
The company said that they implemented even stricter health and safety protocols for our Barbados winter season. All guests were tested twice prior to embarkation and the company was in the process of retesting guests.
SeaDream’s ships are smaller and they actually refer to them as “superyachts”. The ship has 56 staterooms, with a capacity for 112 guests and 95 crew. Because of the size of the vessel, the SeaDream was not mandated to operate under the CDC orders regarding cruising.
Prior to allowing the new passengers onboard (which we still think makes no sense) everyone on the ship had not been in contact with anyone off the ship for more than 20 days.
“Multiple negative tests were required before the guests boarded, but this was not sufficient to prevent Covid-19 onboard,” the company said in a statement.
A total of 7 guests and two crew members aboard SeaDream 1 tested positive for Covid-19.
The original afflicted passenger first felt ill and was tested onboard. That preliminary test was positive and on November 11. The ship immediately set a course back to Barbados.
All other passengers and crew were given two tests. One from the ship and one from the Barbados government.
After a passenger received a preliminary positive test result on November 11, the ship returned to Barbados to test all passengers and crew. Following a negative test result, guests were ushered off the ship.
Passengers were tested prior to boarding the ship. Once the passenger who was infected with COVID originally tested positive, guests were given rapid COVID tests and then an additional test from the Barbados government.
This will most certainly affect the cruise ships and their return to sailing. The CDC had only mandated in their plan that guests be tested one time before crusing. The passengers who tested positive, all tested negative prior to boarding and SeaDream 1 required two tests prior to sailing.
All Cruise Line Association (CLIA) companies voluntarily agreed to postpone sailings through the end of 2020 and the CDC has agreed to allow ships to resume sailings when they successfully comply with the protocols and procedures they hammered out.
Prior to the SeaDream incident, it was expected that sailings would resume early 2021. Now, it feels unsure.
Stay tuned right here to For The Love of The Mouse for more information as it becomes available.