The Government of Barbados has come to the aid of a cruise ship with suspected COVID-19 cases on board. SeaDream says it operated successfully earlier this year in Norway, completing 21 voyages during the summer season as the first luxury line to resume sailing. It also sails outside of USA waters.
Cruise lines, an industry hit hard by the pandemic, are looking for volunteers to set sail on simulated voyages and test COVID-19 protocols before companies can fully resume full service. The cruise arrived on Wednesday night and requested assistance reporting possible positive cases.
The health scare comes amid what Sloan described as a "watershed moment" for the cruise industry which had been forced to suspend operations due to the outbreaks. While social distancing was required onboard the ship, the line only required passengers to wear masks two days after it began its voyage.
The ship left Barbados on Saturday for Saint Vincent, Canouan Island and Tobago Cays, Sloan said.
Torbjorn Lund, the captain of the SeaDream 1, on Wednesday announced that a passenger had been diagnosed with COVID-19 on a preliminary basis.
According to passengers, the captain informed them about the preliminary positive test over the ship's intercom system while they were anchored off the coast of Grenadines.
The company's announcement said that more than one passenger has tested positive, and all 66 crew members have tested negative. At each location stop, Sloan said passengers were instructed not to interact with locals and were shuttled to empty beaches and resorts.
Passengers were tested both in advance of traveling, before boarding, and again a few days into the trip.
However, those rules were later overturned by the ship's activity director on Monday evening, Sloan said. "SeaDream is now retesting all guests", the statement said.
The rapid spread of the virus prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to impose a no-sail order on U.S. cruises in mid March for 30 days. If we get a negative from the shoreside test, we will disembark as planned and be allowed on deck tomorrow.
"We are now reviewing the requirements proposed by the CDC, and with the help of the Healthy Sail Panel, we will determine who is eligible for our simulated cruises", Royal Caribbean told E.W. Scripps in an email. But following the CDC's decision this month to lift its ban on cruise ships, Bostic told the Herald that he does not endorse the use of rapid tests because they "are not safe enough for border screening".