Yesterday, St. Lucia quarantined a cruise ship  after a case of measles was confirmed on board, according to NBC News and the Washington Post. The government of this Caribbean island stated that the ship was quarantined at the port with around 300 passengers and crew members not permitted to disembark. Measles of course is highly infectious.

Scientology Cruise Ship?

A Coast Guard official in the St. Lucian Coast Guard reportedly told NBC News that the cruise ship involved is the M/V Freewinds, which is owned and operated by the Church of Scientology.

But instead of publishing photos of the relatively small 40 year old Scientology ship (440 foot length, approximately 10,000 ton displacement), a number of major news sources, like BBC News, ABC News, the Independent and others, are publishing photos of large (1,000 length, over 100.000 tons) cruise ships operated by major cruise lines like Costa Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and Princess Cruises.

Captain L. Ron Hubbard?

We previously wrote about the Freewinds in 2011 when we discussed a weird and disturbing report that the Scientology organization allegedly held a young woman against her will on its cruise ship. It seems that the Scientology cult uses the cruise ship to teach specialized services in “advanced spiritual concepts” based on lectures that its leader L. Ron Hubbard gave in the 1960s.  Hubbard thought that the path to higher spirituality could be found in settings like cruise ships sailing to tranquil locations.  Hubbard was often photographed wearing a captain’s hat.

In 2008 asbestos was located on the ship and the cruise ship was declared a health hazard.  It was dubbed the Death Ship.

The Freewinds also came under criticism for discharging waste and polluting the waters of southern Caribbean islands.

Cruise Ship Measles Cases

This is not the first time that a case of measles was reported on a cruise ship.

In 2018,  a passenger on a NCL cruise ship (the Norwegian Jewel) visiting Alaska had the measles, according to health officials at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, prompting concerns that other cruise passengers as well as air travelers may spread the virus.

In 2014, another NCL cruise ship, the Norwegian Pearl, had a confirmed case of measles by a crew member while the ship was cruising in Alaska.

2014 also saw the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero report a measles outbreak which occurred on the Costa Pacifica cruise ship.

A measles outbreak is very serious. There is a particular danger to women of childbearing age with measles. U.S. based cruise lines vaccinate for measles because the virus is so virulent.

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Photo credits: Freewinds – Top – Roger Wollstadt – Flickr: Aruba – Freewinds, CC BY-SA 2.0, commons / wikimedia; Freewinds – Bottom – January 2019 in Aruba, moored next to Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas – photo credit – Holly via Facebook.