Yesterday, I wrote in the article titled SeaDream’s Caribbean Cruise: Champagne, Caviar and COVID-19 about what I described as like watching a slow motion train wreck. The week started with travel writers and cruise bloggers boarding the SeaDream 1 cruise yacht in Barbados and lauding their host’s so-called “rigorous” health protocols which did not even require passengers or crew members to wear masks. Then, as to be expected, there was one passenger who felt ill and tested positive, then five guests tested positive, and then seven guests were confirmed with COVID-19. This morning we learn that a crew member was added to the people infected.
SeaDream Yacht Club, meanwhile, continues to refuse to provide information to the public, releasing only a single, misleading press release that only one guest was “assumptively positive” and that “all guests and non-essential crew members are in quarantine in their staterooms in an abundance of caution.”
But the truth is that the are (so far) eight people from the ship who tested positive and are in isolation ashore in Barbados. In addition to bits and pieces of information which the travel writers and cruise fans have intermittingly tweeted out, the local press in Barbados most recently reported that “seven passengers and a crew member who were aboard the SeaDream 1 now docked in Barbados are at the Harrison Point isolation centre in St Lucy with COVID-19.”
The seven passengers who tested positive reportedly are part of a group of 53 total passengers who were identified by a newspaper in Barbados as consisting of 37 Americans and 16 other people from the U.K., Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Other publication says some of the passengers were from Canada.
As far as the remaining forty-six passengers are concerned, SeaDream and Barbados permitted them all to leave the ship and fly back to their respective countries! This is obviously in violation of every imaginable health protocol (as well as common sense) in responding to a shipboard outbreak.
SeaDream claims that its procedures are “aligned” with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (which technically do not directly apply to this non-U.S. sailing). But the CDC requires that all remaining passengers or crew (other than those who test positive) must be transferred from their cabins to isolation rooms and quarantined. Cruise operators must also make “housing agreements” with “shoreside facilities for isolation & quarantine of COVID-19 cases and close contacts.”
Cruise operators are also required to “arrange to disembark and transport passengers and crew using noncommercial transportation.” Cruise lines also have an obligation to “inform ground transportation, air charter operators, and other agencies with relevant jurisdiction that COVID-19 has been detected in passengers or crew and confirm that the operators have in place procedures to notify and protect the health and safety of their staff (e.g., drivers, aircrew).”
It appears that SeaDream made no arrangements to have the guests who had not yet tested positive for the virus to be isolated and quarantined ashore. Nor has the cruise operator arranged for non-commercial flights. It is questionable whether this company informed any of the airlines and local transportation that there was an outbreak on board their ship and these particular guests had been on the ship. It appears that both the cruise operator and the home port accomplished the same objective – to get the guests off the ship and out of the country. To hell with others in the local buses, airport terminal, trams, and airplanes. Who cares if this outbreak spreads off the ship to other countries?
Some of the former guests are now tweeting photos of boarding commercial flights and flying home to various locations around the world. One guest who flew on a British Airlines flight last night to the U.K. remarked on Twitter that he was “crammed into airport trams (in Barbados) like sardines! People not wearing masks on flight!”
And people think cruise is bad which is rediculous considering how much effort goes in! No social distancing, condensed lines, people knocking into us, masks around chins, crammed into airport trams like sardines! People not wearing masks on flight! pic.twitter.com/yx9jFjHSYO
— Cruise with Ben & David (@CruiseWithBD) November 15, 2020
@CDCgov @CLIA @DHSCgovuk @SeaDreamYC @CruiseIndustry
Glad your both back safe and sound
Out of interest:
– were you on a 'special' flight, or @SeaDreamYC put you on a commercial flight?
– was the airline/s aware you had been exposed to Covid for days
– any tests taken enroute
— David Thomas (@djthomashome) November 15, 2020
A local newspaper in Barbados reported that the country’s Chief Medical Officer explained that these eight cruise ship cases “will not be included in Barbados’ count of COVID-19 cases since Barbados regarded this as a humanitarian mission.” The Minister of Tourism and International Transport was quoted in another newspaper as saying that the “image of Barbados was safe” because “these cases could not be counted as part of Barbados’ statistics and therefore should not reflect negatively on the island’s stellar management of the virus.”
There is nothing “humanitarian” or “stellar” about stuffing people potentially exposed to a deadly virus onto crowded planes and flying them around the world in order to keep your country’s COVID statistics low.
This continuing traveling-during-a-pandemic-train-wreck reflects poorly not only on the SeaDream organization but on the country of Barbados as well.
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Photo credits: The Points Guy/Handout via Reuters/New York Post