SeaDream has officially halted its operations for the remainder of the year after multiple individuals tested positive for COVID-19 after boarding one of its ships last week.
SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream 1 had left Barbados on Nov. 7, becoming the first ship to set sail in the Caribbean since the pandemic sidelined vessels earlier this year. Days into the journey, seven passengers and two crew members had tested positive for the virus despite the company's strict testing protocols.
"Multiple negative PCR tests were required before the guests boarded, but this was not sufficient to prevent COVID-19 onboard," the company said in a statement.
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.
However, passengers of the ship were aware of the risks.
Despite the "amount of things that SeaDream did," the duo said this proves that "this method of testing twice before getting on a cruise does not work to make sure that it is completely off the ship."
According to the passengers, everyone was tested 72 hours prior to boarding as well as once they arrived at the port. Passengers also underwent daily health checks and observed social distancing protocols, Ben and David said. They also noted that the ship had three rapid testing machines on board and followed extensive cleaning protocols.
However, initially, masks were not required.
This "may have been a mistake on SeaDream's part but we still self-isolated and it's such a big ship," Ben said, adding that they had "so much space to isolate" since the ship was only a quarter-full for most of the voyage.
Even still, they said it was a blow to the company that was "confident that they had created a bubble with the double testing."
However, the passengers did note that the double testing system had worked for the company in Europe.
SeaDream says it had successfully operated over 20 sailings during the pandemic "without any cases" and that further improvements were made to safety protocols before the Barbados cruise.
The incident serves as an opportunity for the rest of the industry that is still reeling from the fallout of the virus, the passengers said.
While operations remain on pause, SeaDream says it will evaluate and "see if it is possible to operate and have a high degree of certainty of not getting COVID."
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's earlier no-sail orders only stretched through Oct. 31, and the agency has since outlined conditions for the resumptions of sailings, dozens of other cruise lines extended the pause in voyages through the end of the year as well.