5 Passengers Aboard First Cruise Ship to Return to Sailing in the Caribbean Test Positive for COVID-19

A passenger aboard the first cruise ship to resume sailing in the Caribbean during the coronavirus pandemic now has its own COVID-19 scare. A passenger on SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream 1 tested positive, the captain, Torbjorn Lund, told passengers Wednesday afternoon, reports The Points Guy. Lund told all passengers to stay isolated in their cabins and told the nonessential crew to isolate as well. On Thursday afternoon, Lund announced five passengers tested positive overnight and there could be a sixth onboard.

There are only 53 passengers and 66 crew members on the small vessel. It was anchored off Union Island in the Grenadines at the time Lund told passengers over the intercom. The ship began sailing in the Caribbean on Saturday when it left Barbados. The Points Guy journalist Gene Sloan is on the vessel himself, covering the first Caribbean cruise by any vessel since the pandemic was declared in March.

The SeaDream required every passenger to go through COVID-19 tests, Sloan wrote. The ship's crew tried to create a "bubble" to keep the odds anyone had the virus on the boat would be low. The passengers had to test negative for the virus several days before the ship left and then again when they boarded. Another round of tests was scheduled for Wednesday. Guests were also required to social distance, but it was not until Monday that mask-wearing was required.

During his announcement, the captain reportedly told guests the passenger's positive test a "preliminary" rapid test, but the crew would work as if a passenger did test positive. He said the passenger, whose name was not revealed, was sick before taking the test. The vessel turned back to Barbados, where it arrived Wednesday evening.

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According to Sloan's reporting on Thursday, Lund made another announcement around 5 p.m., telling the passengers that overnight testing revealed five more people in the passenger's party tested positive. The Barbados health authorities performed the testing after the vessel arrived there. A couple of hours after the Thursday announcement, Lund said there could be a sixth positive test, and a second test will be administered overnight. Sloan was tested Thursday afternoon in the doorway of his cabin and was told two hours later he tested negative.

Cruise companies stopped sailing last spring as the coronavirus pandemic hit North America. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a "no sail" order on March 14. It was finally lifted on Nov. 1, but the CDC imposed a strict set of protocols. Sloan later told PEOPLE the positive tests on the SeaDream 1 was a "blow" to the cruise industry's hope resume business in the Caribbean. "SeaDream's return to cruising in the Caribbean was a watershed moment for the industry, and many were hoping it would go smoothly," he said.