Numerous news sources are reporting that the first cruise ship to sail in Alaska during the COVID-19 pandemic experienced a positive case of COVID-19 yesterday. KTOO reports that the Wilderness Adventurer, operated by Uncruise, left Juneau last Saturday on a one week cruise with 36 guests and 30 crew members aboard the small cruise ship.

KTOO states that:

“All passengers were required to get tested for COVID-19 before traveling to Alaska and boarding the boat. According to the City and Borough of Juneau, a passenger got a call after the ship left Juneau notifying them of the positive test result. According to UnCruise, that passenger was tested five days before the trip and had arrived with a negative test result in hand. It was a second test at the Juneau airport that showed the passenger was positive.”

The city and borough of Juneau explained that the ship will return early to Juneau tomorrow morning. The ship informed the other 35 guests today and asked them to restrict themselves to their cabins until the ship returns to Juneau. “All guests will quarantine at a local hotel and the crew will quarantine on the vessel in port at Juneau.”

You can read the cruise company’s press release here. You can review UnCruises’ COVID-19 protocols here. You will note that the protocols do not include COVID-19 testing of passengers.

There are over a hundred comments to the city of Juneau’s Facebook post (above). There appears to be a consensus that it is irresponsible to cruise during this pandemic. One commenter said that this “small and intimate” style of cruising  equates to potential transmission of coronavirus. “Unpopular during a pandemic. Unsafe. Unbelievable that they put so many at risk and risked Juneau’s population. Very Uncool.” Another remarked: “100% irresponsible by the Uncruise line & port! Anything to make a buck including possible lives lost. But hey, I’m sure every passenger will enjoy their extended stay. Unbelievable.”

Others questioned why the guests will be let off the ship tomorrow and permitted into Juneau. “Why in the holy hell” is the city  “allowing them to disembark? Quarantining at a local hotel exposes essential workers…..AGAIN!! It’s a damned cruise ship…a floating hotel!! Let them stay on it!! Unless they need medical care, they should be quarantining on the vessel!! Stop importing Covid into our community.”

One person summed up the news: “That didn’t take long.” Another said: “Saw that coming.”

This news follows news reports yesterday that a prior guest who sailed in Norway on the SeaDream I tested positive for COVID-19.  This resulted in all 126 passengers being ordered to remain in their cabins.  Unlike this case, the Norwegian authorities are prohibiting the passengers (as well as the crew) to go ashore and they will undergo tests on the ship to avoid infecting the local villagers.

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Photo Credits:  James Brooks / ADN) via Anchorage Daily News