Seadream Yacht Club Ship Forced to Return to Shore After Passenger Tests Positive for COVID-19

Seadream I and Seadream II yachts

A Caribbean cruise ship has been forced to head to shore after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19 in the middle of the trip, days after the cruise line became the first to resume trips to the region.

The SeaDream Yacht Club is returning to Barbados, 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. 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.

Passengers on this cruise, which took off on Saturday, were required to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of traveling, Cruise Critic noted, and then get tested again with a PCR test before boarding. Passengers then got a third test in the middle of the sailing.

The sick passenger tested positive after feeling symptomatic, and all passengers have been told to isolate in their cabins. When the ship arrives in Barbados, a doctor is expected to come onboard to test everyone.

A representative for SeaDream Yacht Club did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Travel + Leisure

"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.

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