Covid-19 cases rise aboard first cruise to resume sailing in the Caribbean

So far a total of seven passengers have tested positive for Covid-19 aboard the SeaDream 1 cruise ship docked in Barbados, according to two passengers on the...

Posted: Nov 12, 2020 12:41 AM
Updated: Nov 13, 2020 9:15 AM

So far a total of seven passengers have tested positive for Covid-19 aboard the SeaDream 1 cruise ship docked in Barbados, according to two passengers on the ship.

Passengers who have tested negative for the virus will be able to leave the ship and travel home, Gene Sloan and Ben Hewitt told CNN on Friday. They are both among a handful of cruise journalists and bloggers on board.

The SeaDream Yacht Club cruise was the first to return to the Caribbean since the coronavirus pandemic shut operations down in March and was meant to demonstrate that increased safety protocols, including regular testing aboard the ship, could allow cruise voyages to take place during the pandemic.

Instead one passenger fell ill on Wednesday, forcing the SeaDream 1 to return to Barbados, where all 53 passengers and 66 crew were tested.

Hewitt said the crew had informed passengers that everyone who had tested negative twice would be allowed to disembark the ship and fly home on Saturday.

SeaDream Yacht Club said in a news release Thursday afternoon that 'guests' had received 'assumptive positive' results to preliminary rapid Covid tests, but did not specify the number who had done so.

CNN has asked SeaDream to confirm the exact number of positive results.

'We are working closely with local health and government authorities to resolve this situation in the best possible way,' said SeaDream's Andreas Brynestad, in the SeaDream release.

Intercom announcement of positive test result

Sloan, who is a senior reporter for cruise and travel at The Points Guy, reported that the Covid scare started when the captain informed passengers of the preliminary positive test over 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, which was in the Grenadines at the time of the first preliminary positive test, docked in Barbados Wednesday evening.

'It's not a great development for the cruise industry,' Sloan told CNN via email on Wednesday from his cabin on board. 'I think the hope had been that the rigorous testing that SeaDream was doing would keep Covid off its ship.'

Multilayer testing for Covid-19 has been an integral part of SeaDream's efforts to create a Covid-19 negative bubble aboard its ships.

Passengers were tested in advance of traveling to the ship and also before boarding the ship, Sloan said.

'And SeaDream also was testing passengers four days into the trip,' he said. 'We were scheduled to be tested again today. That's a more rigorous testing plan than most lines had been discussing for the restarts.'

The protocol is due in part to the strict testing required by Barbados, where the ship will be based for the season, Sloan noted.

'I think what this shows is it's going to happen. And until there's a vaccine or herd immunity, when cruising starts up you're going to see things like this happen. The question is how often and how big?'

Voyages from Barbados

SeaDream's winter voyages from Barbados started on November 7 with the sailing that has now been cut short.

These new Caribbean sailings follow a successful summer season for SeaDream in Norway, which the company said 'resulted in zero positive cases during the entire Norwegian summer season.'

'After completing a successful summer season in Norway, we implemented even stricter health and safety protocols for our Barbados winter season. All guests were tested twice prior to embarkation and we are in the process of retesting guests,' said SeaDream's Andreas Brynestad in the statement released on Thursday.

Ben Hewitt, host of Cruise with Ben & David on YouTube, expressed his disappointment and frustration with the virus in an interview Thursday from his stateroom.

'It's just so disappointing that this has happened because everybody has their hopes up high, and we can't see anything more that they could've done,' said Hewitt.

'It's just such a horrible virus, it just gets everywhere even with the constant testing.'

The use of masks on the voyage has been far less stringent.

Sloan told CNN that initially no one was wearing face masks, not even the crew. Crew members told him they weren't necessary since the ship was a Covid-free 'bubble.'

Then a few days into sailing, SeaDream instituted a mask policy but didn't offer an explanation, he said.

Fewer than 250 guests

SeaDream's ships, which the company refers to as 'superyachts,' have 56 staterooms, with a capacity for 112 guests and 95 crew.

Carrying fewer than 250 guests outside of US waters allows SeaDream to operate outside of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's orders around cruising.

The CDC recently issued a 'Framework for Conditional Sailing Order for Cruise Ships.'

The order, which applies to cruise ships in US territorial waters that have capacity to carry at least 250 passengers, is considered a tentative step toward the resumption of cruising.

Trade group Cruise Lines International Association said it will work with the CDC to resume US sailings as soon as possible, but that its members would continue a voluntary suspension of operations through the end of 2020.

On Friday, a letter signed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) called on the CDC to reinstate its no-sail order for cruise ships and reverse efforts to restart the industry's US operations.

The letter cites the outbreak aboard SeaDream 1.

Despite precautions, 'the virus was still able to infect multiple people on the ship, with the possibility of more confirmed cases emerging as passengers and crew are retested,' the letter reads.

'Unfortunately, this troubling development is not surprising and reaffirms the need to exercise extreme caution before sending passengers and crew back out to sea on cruises.'

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 171398

Reported Deaths: 2446
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34320566
Washington23060229
Marion19838299
Clackamas14975202
Lane11295144
Jackson9709126
Umatilla792683
Deschutes679372
Linn403962
Yamhill403974
Malheur342158
Polk336351
Klamath329257
Douglas300865
Josephine298162
Benton267318
Jefferson204832
Coos194731
Columbia150525
Union140423
Lincoln128220
Wasco126428
Hood River110729
Morrow107115
Clatsop8768
Crook84619
Baker81213
Curry5829
Tillamook5692
Lake4127
Grant3464
Harney3036
Wallowa1565
Sherman560
Gilliam551
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3706629

Reported Deaths: 60547
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122662723505
Riverside2968014504
San Bernardino2939254493
San Diego2737083623
Orange2684144849
Santa Clara1164362002
Kern1074341306
Sacramento1005871644
Fresno1002771633
Alameda848171447
Ventura80112990
San Joaquin711781334
Contra Costa66567777
Stanislaus600831020
Tulare49300824
Monterey43209348
San Mateo40920556
San Francisco35841506
Santa Barbara33736444
Solano31702238
Merced31105449
Sonoma29573311
Imperial27851717
Kings22723245
Placer21600281
San Luis Obispo20827256
Madera16174239
Santa Cruz15432203
Marin13815224
Yolo13510199
Shasta11570214
Butte11488193
El Dorado9662108
Napa961880
Sutter9245106
Yuba608343
San Benito594262
Lassen566624
Tehama539356
Nevada441875
Tuolumne405864
Mendocino397747
Amador360746
Humboldt356036
Lake338043
Glenn234925
Colusa218816
Calaveras204551
Siskiyou190920
Inyo141638
Mono12724
Del Norte12637
Plumas6886
Modoc4874
Mariposa4177
Trinity3985
Sierra1080
Alpine880
Unassigned500
Medford
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 37°
Brookings
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 56°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 37°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 37°
Klamath Falls
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 24°
Mostly sunny and warmer Wednesday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events