Fear of COVID-19 unfolds aboard first Caribbean cruise since pandemic began

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A fear of COVID-19 is the last thing the cruise industry needs to get back to the Caribbean.

Yet, on Wednesday, a passenger from SeaDream 1 at the SeaDream Yacht Club received a preliminary positive test result for COVID-19, according to Gene Sloan, senior reporter for Cruises and Travel at Point Guy, who was on board the ship.

CNN Travel contacted SeaDream on Wednesday afternoon for confirmation. The company said it would provide a statement but did not give it to CNN by 6:30 p.m. ET.

SeaDream 1 is the first cruise ship to resume navigation in the Caribbean since the start of the pandemic.

Intercom announcement of a positive test result

Sloan reported that the captain informed passengers of the preliminary positive test on the ship’s intercom system shortly before lunchtime on Wednesday.

Passengers were instructed to return to their cabins and remain isolated there, he said.

The ship was anchored off Union Island in the Grenadines at the time of the announcement, according to Sloan, and had returned to Barbados immediately.

The impact on the industry of the incident “will depend in part on how this situation unfolds in the hours and days to come,” Sloan told CNN Travel via email from his cabin on board. “But that’s not a big development for the cruise industry. I think the hope was that the rigorous testing carried out by SeaDream will keep Covid away from its ship. ”

Extensive, multi-layered testing for COVID-19 has been an integral part of SeaDream’s efforts to create a negative COVID-19 bubble on board its ships.

Passengers were tested both before getting to the ship and before boarding the ship, Sloan said.

“And SeaDream also tested the passengers four days after the trip started,” he said. “We were to be tested again today. It’s a more rigorous testing plan than most lines had discussed for their reboots. “

Travel from Barbados

The line was confident in its safety precautions when it announced its winter trips from Barbados, which began on November 7. The Norwegian summer season. ”

“As the first luxury line to start sailing again, we have learned many lessons and are confident that we can provide a safe environment without sacrificing luxury,” SeaDream’s Andreas Brynestad said in the September ad describing the trips in Barbados.

In addition to Barbados, the itineraries include stops in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, all of which are open to Americans.

Less than 250 guests

SeaDream’s ships, which the company calls “superyachts”, feature 56 cabins, with a capacity of 112 passengers and 95 crew members.

Carrying fewer than 250 passengers outside of U.S. waters allows SeaDream to operate outside of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cruise orders.

The CDC recently published a “Conditional Navigation Control Framework for Cruise Ships”.

The order, which applies to cruise ships in U.S. territorial waters that have the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers, is seen as an interim step toward resuming cruise shipments.

The Cruise Lines International Association trading group has said it will work with the CDC to resume U.S. crossings as soon as possible, but that its members will continue to voluntarily suspend operations until the end of 2020.

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