SeaDream Yacht Club Passengers Return Home After COVID-19 Outbreak
Passengers on the Seadream Yacht Club ship in the Caribbean were given the all clear to return home over the weekend after their trip was cut short due to an onboard COVID-19 outbreak.
According to a statement from SeaDream, seven passengers and two crew members had tested positive for coronavirus, forcing the ship — which was the first to head back to the Caribbean — to return to shore. Guests were confined to their cabins before they were allowed to disembark and the infected passengers were transferred to a medical facility in Barbados.
The outbreak occurred only five days after 53 passengers boarded the SeaDream I and stopped in St Vincent, Canouan, the Tobago Cays, and Union Island, Cruise Critic reported.
After guests disembarked, Seadream Yacht Club announced that they'll be canceling their trips through the end of the year.
"SeaDream has decided to cancel sailing for the remainder of 2020 after positive COVID-19 test results," the statement read. "Multiple negative PCR tests were required before the guests boarded, but this was not sufficient to prevent COVID-19 onboard."
Passengers were required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of traveling, and then get tested twice more once on board.
The trip was the start of 22 roundtrip sailings from Barbados, according to the company, ranging from six to eight-night sailings with daily temperature checks and onshore excursions scheduled to “predesignated places.”
Prior to the sailing, the company said it installed an ultrasonic disinfecting system “that can kill any COVID-19 virus in the air” and obtained three Abbott ID Now testing machines.
"This is a blow to the cruise industry's efforts to restart operations in the Caribbean," Gene Sloan, a cruise expert with The Points Guy and a passenger on the SeaDream I, told T+L in a statement. “SeaDream's return to cruising in the Caribbean was a watershed moment for the industry, and many were hoping it would go smoothly."
This isn’t the cruise line’s first brush with the virus. Over the summer, SeaDream Yacht Club was forced to quarantine its passengers and crew in Norway after a passenger from a previous sailing tested positive for the virus. That later turned out to be a false positive, according to the company.
While most cruising in the U.S. won’t return until at least next year, major cruise lines have started to look ahead with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifting its “No-Sail Order” and paving the way for a phased restart of the beleaguered industry. Major lines will now require passengers to get tested before embarking, and one ship — Viking’s “Viking Star” — has built its own on-board lab with the ability to perform non-invasive saliva tests every day for all passengers and crew.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.