The cruise of boutique cruise vessel Sea Dream 1 (IMO 8203438) remained suspended on Friday after tests on guests mid-cruise returned “assumptive positive results”.
The cruise, although it had only 53 guests and 66 crew – at least two of whom were journalists/travel writers live-blogging on the trip – had a high profile because it was the first cruise in the Caribbean since the cruise industry went into suspended animation in mid-March.
Although all passengers and crew were required to go through rigid protocols to ensure that the voyage remained Covid-free for the week that the vessel was scheduled to be at sail, a mid-journey precautionary test showed that some of the passengers were positive for the virus. The vessel returned to its departure point of Barbados.
Passengers have said that they were being looked after, but that it was not yet clear how things would progress. SeaDream Yacht Club, owners of the cruise ship, said that the company was working closely with local officials, and that the cruise had been “paused”. SeaDream said that it had tested all crew members again and that all of these had come back negative.
The bloggers and reporters on the cruise said that all of the passengers and also non-essential crew were in quarantine. Passengers were permitted to go on deck for fresh air wearing face masks and under social distancing rules. Meals were being taken in passengers’ suites.
On November 11th the ship was anchored at Union Island when a passenger reported feeling unwell. A rapid test was administered and came back positive for Covid-19. Passengers were told to return to their suites while additional testing was commenced. SeaDream has not confirmed how many passenger tests have come back as positive, with reports varying from five to seven total positive cases. One report said that a passenger had been taken to a hospital.
SeaDream said that it was awaiting authorization from the Barbados government to disembark the guests, who are US, UK and mainland European nationals.
Because of the journey’s high profile, US politicians were quick to get in on the act. USA Today said that a group of congressmen sent a letter according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demanding that the recent relaxation of the no-sail order be halted and that it should be reimposed. The congressmen mentioned the outbreak on the SeaDream 1, as well as the CDC’s recent statement that it was too soon to transition to a conditional order to sail.
SeaDream said that it had tightened protocols after the summer season in Norway. Passengers had to test negative before leaving home and again before boarding the ship. At the beginning of the cruise the line was not requiring the use of face covers, but at the beginning of the week changed that asking passengers to observe the additional precaution as well as continuing to maintain social distancing.
SeaDream had become the first cruise line to resume service when the SeaDream 1 sailed from Oslo on June 20th (IMN August 6th 2020). The company announced in May that it would reposition one of its 112-passenger small yacht-like cruise ships to offer cruises sailing around Norway. At first, they planned nine cruises on one ship, but reported that they had such strong demand that they would also bring the sister ship to Norway for seven- and 12-day summer cruises, which would call only at Norwegian ports.
After completing its summer cruises the vessel carried passengers on a trans-Atlantic cruise from Norway, with a stop in the UK before reaching the Caribbean. The line plans to operate a total of 22 cruises from Barbados during the winter.
1984-built, Bahamas-flagged, 4,333 gt Seadream I is owned by Seadream Yacht Club AS and managed by Seadream Yacht Club Management of Billingstad, Norway. It is entered with Skuld (Business Unit Skuld Oslo 2) on behalf of Seadream Yacht Club Management.