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COVID’s Caribbean cruise outbreak is expanding; The cruise line cancels trips

Relatively small luxury liner at sea.
Zoom in / SeaDream cruise liner sailing towards sunset.

Plans for luxury cruises are quickly ̵

1; and perhaps predictably – stuck in the Caribbean.

Cruise ship SeaDream Yacht Club canceled all voyages for the rest of the year this week after one of its ships – the first to resume sailing in the region amid the pandemic – was wrecked by the COVID-19 outbreak last week.

So far, at least seven of the 53 passengers and two of the 66 crews have been on board the yacht. SeaDream I are linear with a positive test for the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Since then, the infected and those with a negative result have come down.

The cruise, which took passengers to Barbados on November 7, was considered a watershed for the cruise industry. SeaDream is working to prove that it can continue to operate in a global health crisis – even as the pandemic is currently raging in Europe and the United States to the greatest extent ever.

SeaDream set sail on the crusade without many colleagues. The International Cruise Line Association (CLIA), which accounts for 95 percent of the industry, said it was extending the voluntary suspension of all cruises until the end of the year.

But SeaDream backed away, promoting its extensive health protocols and precautions. The cruise line operator invited fewer guests on board, tried to maintain physical distance, encouraged the wearing of masks and changed excursions outside the ship to prevent passengers from mixing with other people on shore.

“Not enough”

Passengers also had to test negative for SARS-CoV-2 several times to try to create a COVID-free balloon at sea. Although passengers took extremely accurate laboratory tests for RT-PCR before boarding, it appears that the on-board tests relied on a rapid Abbott test, which is not designed to detect asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. Experts have repeatedly raised questions about its use for general screenings, especially after the outbreaks in the White House, which rely solely on Abbott tests to prevent the spread of the disease.

Four days later SeaDream I leaves Barbados, a passenger develops symptoms and has a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. The ship immediately headed back to the Caribbean, with all passengers and unnecessary crew in quarantine. In the end, SeaDream acknowledged that all its efforts to prevent the spread of diseases at sea were “insufficient”.

Although the cruise operator once again noted that it had made 21 trips to Norway in June without incident, it decided to cancel the remaining sailing plans by 2020. “The company will now take the time to assess and see if it is possible to work and to have a high degree of security not to receive COVID “, SeaDream writes in a press release.


The news may come as no surprise, given that the pandemic was first marked by devastating COVID-19 outbreaks aboard cruise ships. The most notable was the case with Diamond Princess, which was hit by an early epidemic and quarantined for weeks in a Japanese port in February. Eventually, 712 of the 3,711 passengers and crew were infected, 37 needed intensive treatment, and nine died.

The proximity of cruise ships and their social nature make them outbreaks of disease transmission, and experts strongly advise the public not to sail while coronavirus transmission remains high. For these reasons, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planned to extend the cruise ship waiver order until February 2021. However, the agency was revoked by the Trump administration, whose waiver order was revoked on October 30. At the time of the ruling, health officials speculated that the move was made ahead of the presidential election to calm the cruise industry, which has economic influence in the swing state of Florida.

With passengers and crew SeaDream I now outside the ship and scattered, it can be difficult to know if additional cases will develop. Sue Bryant, who writes for Cruise Critic and was on board the ill-fated liner, wrote in a publication that crew members said some of the infected passengers did not go to an isolation center in Barbados as expected. A group of six people traveling together – including the first to fall ill, as well as four others infected – “had returned to the United States in the United States on a private jet, five of whom tested positive.”

Passengers who took a negative test were allowed to get off and go to the airport to catch flights back to their home countries. Of the 53 passengers, 37 were Americans and others were from Britain, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.

“I still wonder why we were allowed to leave Barbados and not be quarantined,” Bryant wrote. “The official line was that we all submitted two negative tests, one approved by the government, and we were free to go. My opinion is that they wanted us to leave the island as soon as possible. ”

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