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Seven passengers have tested positive for COVID-19 this week after boarding the first ship to set sail in the Caribbean since the pandemic sidelined the vessels earlier this year.
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One of the passengers aboard SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream 1 has been hospitalized for observation, according to Sue Bryant, a passenger on the ship and cruise editor for The Times and The Sunday Times, who confirmed the details in an e-mail to FOX Business.
PASSENGER TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRIUS ON FIRST CARIBBEAN CRUISE TO RESUME SAILING
Everybody else aboard ship, including crew members, has tested negative. All of them took two tests last week prior to embarking followed by two more after the first illness was reported.
One passenger had tested positive for the coronavirus a few days into the voyage, which began on Saturday, prompting the SeaDream 1 to pause its Caribbean voyage and return to Barbados.
Even though cases emerged on the ship, Bryan said "SeaDream has done everything by the book."
"At no time have I felt that anybody was taking unnecessary risks," she said.
According to Bryan, all of the passengers were social distancing and the ship had taken extra precautions including requiring everyone to daily check ins at reception to log their temperatures. Additionally, there was no self-service buffet, the gym required reservations to limit crowding and hand sanitizer was plentiful, according to her blog post on cruisecritic.com.
SeaDream's executive vice president Andreas Brynestad issued a statement Thursday, saying that the ship was "working closely with local health and government authorities" and that its "main priority is the health and safety of our crew, guests, and the communities we visit.”
While the company awaits authorization from the Barbados government to disembark guests safely, all 53 passengers and nonessential crew members were forced to isolate in their cabins while the SeaDream began re-testing guests, according to SeaDream.
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"We have no interaction with other passengers as we are isolated in our cabin, where I have been for nearly 48 hours now," Bryant said on Friday.
Despite that, the crew has been "amazing, going out of their way to bring anything from bottles of wine to DVDs" while abiding by safety procedures, Bryant said.
The captain has addressed passengers "several times a day" and even phoned every cabin individually after the first person tested positive.
Although SeaDream says it operated successfully earlier this year in Norway, the onboard COVID-19 outbreak has renewed concerns over the safety of cruise travel during the pandemic.
It's been an uphill battle for the industry since the pandemic began. Cruise lines canceled sailings in Asia when the outbreak was mostly limited to that part of the world, but bookings dropped and cancellations rose just about everywhere as the virus spread.
In mid-March, the CDC ordered cruise ships to stop sailing to U.S. ports after several vessels reported outbreaks onboard.
In its latest notice, the CDC reiterated that there is an "increased risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships" and a "careful approach" is needed to resume operations.
Although the CDC's earlier no-sail orders only stretched through Oct. 31, and the agency has since outlined conditions for the resumptions of sailings, dozens of cruise lines have extended the pause in voyages through the end of the year.
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As a result, all eyes will be focused "on cruises that are currently sailing," Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, told FOX Business.
"Those learnings will be paramount to a more robust return to service, particularly here in the U.S.," she said. "The primary focus of cruise lines continues to be the safety of their guests, crew members and the communities they visit across the globe."
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