UPDATE: The first cruise line to resume cruises in the Caribbean has cancelled all further sailings in 2020 after passengers tested positive for Covid-19 on the first cruise after a pandemic-related hiatus.
A statement from SeaDream Cruises said "SeaDream has decided to cancel sailing for the remainder of 2020 after positive Covid-19 test results. Multiple negative PCR tests were required before the guests boarded, but this was not sufficient to prevent Covid-19 on board. SeaDream successfully operated more than 20 sailings during the pandemic (in Norway) without any cases and further improvements were made to protocols before the Barbados season. The company will now spend time to evaluate and see if it is possible to operate and have a high degree of certainty of not getting Covid. Seven guests and two crew members have tested positive for Covid-19 by Barbados health authorities."
Those who tested negative have been allowed to return home.
As Sunday Times cruise editor Sue Bryant wrote in a blog post, "Finally, on Saturday, the Barbados Government gave the go ahead for those of us who tested negative to fly home. Those who were ill - seven passengers in total - were placed in isolation faciltiies in Barbados."
Friday 13 November
A statement from SeaDream Yacht Club said the luxuxry cruise line’s SeaDream I cruise ship had returned to port in Barbados after passengers on board tested positive in rapid Covid tests.
"Immediately after performing the preliminary rapid Covid test on board and receiving the assumptive positive results, SeaDream advised local health authorities and set in motion its Covid response protocols to protect guests and crew," the cruise line reported.
"The ship’s medical staff have tested all crew members and all tests have come back negative. SeaDream is currently retesting all guests."
Sunday Times cruise editor Sue Bryant, who is on the cruise, told Passenger Ship Technology "There are six cases, five from one group of six and one other person. The original case is in hospital for observation."
Ms Bryant is in quarantine as are all passengers and what SeaDream called "non-essential" crew. She said the results from yesterday’s passenger tests were not yet available.
"No idea yet whether we can fly home tomorrow," Ms Bryant said. "The next cruise is definitely cancelled."
In a blog on a cruise travel website Ms Bryant recounted the levels of testing required for passengers, with all passengers requiring a negative test within 72 hours of travel and then being tested again before boarding the vessel.
The initial positive test on board came a few days into the cruise, when a passenger requested a test upon feeling unwell a day ahead of a shipwide scheduled test.
"Subsequent testing turned up five positive tests within [an] American group traveling together, as well as one person with antibodies, which signifies a recent infection," Ms Bryant recounted.
SeaDream has been the first line to resume cruises in the Caribbean as well as the first to resume cruises in Norway in what it called its "summer season".
“After completing a successful summer season in Norway, we implemented even stricter health and safety protocols for our Barbados winter season. All guests were tested twice prior to embarkation and we are in the process of retesting guests.” SeaDream executive vice president Andreas Brynestad said “We are working closely with local health and government authorities to resolve this situation in the best possible way. Our main priority is the health and safety of our crew, guests, and the communities we visit.”
SeaDream said it is awaiting authorisation from Barbados authorities to disembark passengers.