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SeaDream, the first cruise ship to resume sailing transatlantic and in the Caribbean has preliminary COVID positive test scare

November 17, 2020 Cruise No Comments Email Email

According to thepointsguy.com’s Gene Sloan, who is on board SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream I, the first cruise vessel to go transatlantic and resume sailing in the Caribbean, a passenger on SeaDream I has tested positive for COVID-19, described as on a preliminary basis, with the captain of the vessel, Torbjorn Lund, announcing the news in a shipwide intercom address shortly after noon on Wednesday.

Lund asked all passengers to return to their cabins, where they would be isolated and nonessential crew also would isolate immediately.

There are 53 passengers and 66 crew on board the small, luxurious yacht-like vessel, which was anchored off Union Island in the Grenadines at the time the announcement was made.

Sloan goes on to say, “The list of passengers on board SeaDream I, which just resumed Caribbean sailings on Saturday out of Barbados, includes me.”  “I’ve been on board since Saturday covering this week’s voyage”, describing being on board as a, “Watershed moment for the cruise industry”.

Sloan says that the sailing was the first in the Caribbean by any cruise vessel since the coronavirus crisis was declared a pandemic in March, with the Caribbean the world’s biggest cruise destination, accounting for at least a third of all cruises taken in a normal year, and the cruise industry has been eyeing a restart in the region for many months.

He said in previous posts that SeaDream had required passengers to run a gauntlet of COVID-19 testing before boarding SeaDream I, with the objective being to create a COVID-free “bubble” on the ship where the odds that even a single passenger is carrying the new coronavirus on board extremely low.

He added that every SeaDream I passenger had to test negative for COVID-19 several days in advance of boarding and again on the day of boarding and a third test for all passengers was scheduled to take place the day he posted.

Sloan says that driven in part by the COVID-testing requirements of Barbados, where SeaDream I is scheduled to spend the winter, this is a far more rigorous testing regime than the world’s biggest cruise lines have mapped out in their plans for a cruising comeback, with SeaDream also requiring social distancing on board SeaDream 1 and, since Monday evening, mask-wearing. although the line did not require mask-wearing during the first two days of the voyage.

Sloan says that during his address to passengers, Captain Lund said the results of the test that came back positive, a rapid test, were “preliminary” but the vessel was working under the assumption that it had one or more COVID patients on board, with Lund adding that the passenger who was tested had felt ill before the test.

Lund also said the SeaDream I would immediately return to Barbados, bringing an end to the current sailing, with in a second update a few hours later adding that the vessel was expected to arrive in Barbados around 10.00pm Wednesday evening.

In another announcement, Lund said the ship’s doctor was working through the afternoon testing all the ship’s crew and passengers for COVID-19, with the ship carrying three Abbott ID Now testing machines that each can process one COVID test every 15 minutes.

Lund advised that Barbadian health authorities would board the ship after it arrived in Barbados late Wednesday and passengers and crew would likely be tested yet again by the local authorities, adding, he wasn’t sure if the additional testing would take place immediately upon arrival or be deferred to Thursday morning.

With the initial announcement on Wednesday coming just before lunchtime, as passengers were then confined to their cabins, they ate lunch in their rooms and crew slipped menus under cabin doors that offered a range of options from a cheeseburger to a fillet of Arctic char and meals were served within a couple hours by mask-wearing staff who did not enter the rooms.

Lund said, “Please allow a bit of extra time for us to adjust for this new situation,” and “We are confident in our routines and medical plans, but they are strict, and we apologize for this inconvenience”, promising regular announcements with updates and saying he would send letters with more details to cabins.

Sloan says that in addition to Union Island, SeaDream I has visited St. Vincent and the Grenadine islands of Canouan and Tobago Cays, but passengers have not come in contact with locals on the islands and in order to maintain a COVID-free bubble on board, off-vessel activities have focused exclusively on landings at empty beaches for swimming and sunning, and catamaran trips from the ship for snorkeling, with passengers not having visited any island towns.

The 53 passengers on board include 37 Americans and passengers from the UK, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

An edited report from thepointsguy.com by John Alwyn-Jones

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