Nov 13, 2020 - Health

COVID hits first cruise ship to return to Caribbean since pandemic stalled industry

SeaDream cruise ship in Norway

The Seadream 1 ship docks in Bodo in Norway in August 2020. Photo: Sondre Skjelvik/NTB Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

The first cruiseliner to return to the Caribbean since the coronavirus pandemic shut the industry down was forced to return to its home port of Barbados after passengers tested positive for COVID-19, the ship's owner, SeaDream Yacht Club, said Thursday.

Why it matters: Cruise ships were the sites of some of the most severe coronavirus outbreaks early in the pandemic, before the industry suspended operations in March.

What they're saying: "SeaDream I has paused its current Caribbean voyage and returned to Barbados after guests’ tests for Covid-19 returned assumptive positive results," the Norway-based company said in a release.

  • All passengers were tested twice before embarking and were tested again, the company added.
  • The company did not specify how many people tested positive, but said all guests and non-essential crew members were quarantining in their staterooms in "an abundance of caution."
  • The New York Times reported Friday that at least seven of the ship's 53 passengers tested positive.
  • SeaDream’s Andreas Brynestad's said the company is "working closely with local health and government authorities to resolve this situation in the best possible way.”
  • He added that after "completing a successful summer season in Norway, we implemented even stricter health and safety protocols for our Barbados winter season."
  • According to the company, it completed 21 cruises during Norway's summer season.

The big picture: Cruise ships cautiously resumed sailing in Europe in August, per WSJ.

  • Some ships that did not require testing were forced to cut their trips short due to suspected COVID-19 cases among passengers or crew, WSJ wrote.
  • At the end of October, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention replaced its "no-sail" order on American cruises with a less restrictive "Conditional Sailing Order," setting the stage for the phased resumption of passenger cruise line travel.
  • It will likely be months, however, before U.S. cruises resume with passengers on board.
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