5 optimistic assessments for Covid on first cruise ship to renew crusing within the Caribbean
According to reports and an interview with a passenger, five passengers on board the first cruise ship to resume sailing in the Caribbean tested positive for the coronavirus.
SeaDream Yacht Club’s captain SeaDream 1, Torbjorn Lund, told passengers and crew about the positive Covid tests in an announcement, Sue Bryant, a cruise editor for the Sunday Times who is currently on the ship, said in a telephone interview with CNBC . Gene Sloan, a cruise writer for The Points Guy who is also on the ship, also confirmed the announcement.
Bryant said the five people who tested positive appear to be traveling in a group.
SeaDream, a luxury cruise ship based in Oslo, Norway, did not immediately return CNBC’s request for comment.
The company said in a statement earlier Thursday that it had interrupted the ship’s Caribbean cruise “after tests of guests for Covid-19 were believed to have given positive results”.
“Immediately after conducting the preliminary Covid rapid test on board and receiving the suspected positive results, SeaDream advised local health authorities and started its Covid response protocols to protect guests and crew members,” the company said. “The ship’s medical staff have tested all crew members and all tests have been negative. SeaDream is currently retesting all guests.”
The company noted that it has successfully operated cruises in Norway this summer. SeaDream implemented “even stricter health and safety protocols for our winter season in Barbados,” the company said.
“All guests have been tested twice before embarkation and we are in the process of retesting the guests,” said Andreas Brynestad, executive vice president of SeaDream, in a statement. “We are working closely with local health and government agencies to best resolve this situation. Our top priority is the health and safety of our crew, guests and the communities we visit.”
Sloan, who is on board the ship, told NBC’s “Today” show that the company has an “incredibly tight system” in place to try to keep the virus off the ship and out of the bladder. That strategy relied largely on repeated testing, Sloan said, which the company hoped “would sort of block Covid at the door”.
Sloan told Inside Edition, however, that people on board the ship would not have to wear masks until two days after the voyage began.
According to Cruisemapper, the ship is currently in the port of Bridgetown, Barbados, where the location of cruise lines and other vessels is being tracked. Bryant, the editor who is also on the ship, said the tests that resulted in five positive tests were carried out by Barbados health officials. All crew members have tested negative, according to Bryant, the captain said. They are still waiting for test results for all passengers, she said.
The Barbados Port Authority did not immediately return CNBC’s request for comment.
The ship currently has 53 passengers on board and 66 crew members, she said. All passengers and “non-essential crew members” are currently being quarantined in their quarters while Barbados authorities conduct further tests.
“We just don’t know if we can get off the ship in Barbados. The captain seemed very optimistic,” she said. “We don’t know. We’re just waiting to hear.”
Passengers on the current cruise boarded the ship on Saturday, Bryant said. She added that the ship has since been “in a bubble” and only interacts with others on the ship.
The news of a group of infections aboard a cruise ship is a blow to the industry, which is one of the hardest hit sectors in the global economy. Cruises have largely stalled since March after some of the earliest Covid-19 outbreaks occurred on cruise lines that resulted in some deaths.
The Cruise Lines International Association, a trading group representing SeaDream and other cruise lines, did not immediately return CNBC’s request for comment.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order for cruise lines in March saying “cruise lines are exacerbating the spread of Covid-19 worldwide …”
Last month, the CDC repealed the no-sail regulation and replaced it with a “Conditional Sailing Order,” which is a step-by-step approach to help cruise companies resume operations in US waters with health protocols such as increased testing and quarantine protocols .
The SeaDream ship was allowed to sail in US waters because CDC regulations only apply to ships that can carry at least 250 passengers.
Some cruise companies have successfully voyaged Europe and elsewhere during the pandemic while keeping the virus off ships. Executives at major publicly traded cruise lines have been optimistic that with greater investments in health and safety, they can successfully resume at least some operations over the next year.