'We were surprised': At least seven passengers positive for COVID-19 on SeaDream cruise ship
Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 95% of the cruise industry, introduced mandatory requirements to be able to set sail again. USA TODAY
Ben Hewitt and David McDonald are quarantining on board Twitter. They have been on the ship for about three weeks after embarking in Portsmouth, in the United Kingdom, they said.
"Now 7 cases onboard as a the other half of a couple who tested positive yesterday has also tested positive," they wrote on Twitter Friday. "Everyone else has tested negative Apparently all negative passengers will all be free to leave the ship and travel and fly 真人百家家乐官网网站home tomorrow."
Hewitt and McDonald have each had six tests since their journey began.
"Before boarding, we had one full PCR antigen lab test, then one using the ships abbot rapid testing machine," Hewitt explained. "Whilst on board we have also had one full PCR test in Portugal and two full PCR tests in Barbados as well as another rapid test on board the ship yesterday."
The Associated Press that one passenger became sick on Wednesday and forced the ship to turn back to Barbados, where it had departed from on Saturday.
"New passengers from the U.S. and Canada arrived on Saturday – the passengers who have the virus boarded that day," Hewitt told USA TODAY, noting those passengers boarded in Barbados. "They had to have at least two tests before boarding."
One person is in the hospital while the others have mild symptoms, Hewitt said the captain told passengers in an announcement. Two groups on board have had members who tested positive: A couple and five members of a family of six. The family is from the United States, Hewitt said.
The sailing that was cut short marked the first time SeaDream had resumed its West Indies voyages since the pandemic, with the ship originally scheduled to return to Barbados on Saturday, according to an online itinerary. The ship had made several stops in St. Vincent and the Grenadines before turning back.
"It just goes to show that testing is not 100% effective with any type of travel, including cruise," Hewitt added.
The Norway-based SeaDream Yacht Club, the ship’s parent company, wouldn’t confirm how many passengers tested positive in the initial round of testing.
SeaDream said the ship’s medical staff has tested all crew members and that all tested negative. The company also said it is currently re-testing all guests, noting they’re all under quarantine along with nonessential crew members.
“We are working closely with local health and government ities to resolve this situation in the best possible way,” SeaDream said in a statement to the Associated Press. “Our main priority is the health and safety of our crew, guests, and the communities we visit.”
Hewitt and McDonald said that conditions in quarantine on the ship have been fine and that SeaDream implemented COVID-19 mitigation protocols quickly. They are receiving regular updates from the ship's captain and written communication that include updates on the situation, as well.
"The crew are so fantastic, too," Hewitt added. "We feel so disappointed for them because they have worked so hard to keep the ship COVID free."
The couple noted, though, the crew wore masks but no other personal protective equipment, even when the outbreak emerged on board.
In their tweet Friday, they wrote they may be able to disembark Saturday. To do so, they would be required to have two negative tests and clearance from ities in Barbados, Hewitt said. "But we are still concerned that because COVID takes a few days to incubate that it could be a mistake letting people go so early."
When Hewitt and McDonald do have the opportunity to disembark, they plan to travel back to the U.K., which is another cause for anxiety. "A full lockdown has been instated – so we are slightly concerned with flights and getting 真人百家家乐官网网站home."
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented a lockdown at the end of last month, and Britain reported its biggest one-day case increase//added from news story with more than 33,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
Waters around the Caribbean have been largely bereft of cruise ships this year, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspending cruise ship operations at U.S. ports in mid-March. The no-sail order expired on Oct. 31.
Last week, the Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 95% of global ocean-growing cruise capacity, said its members were voluntarily suspending cruise operations in the U.S. through Dec. 31.
SeaDream was among the first cruise lines to resume service in Europe. In August, the company reported that an asymptomatic passenger had tested positive for the coronavirus after disembarking from SeaDream I in Denmark. All other passengers and crew tested negative, the company said.
Contributing: Associated Press, Ken Alltucker, USA TODAY