One of the first cruises to return a disaster, trip cut short after at least 7 cases

Early in the pandemic there were so many cruise ships stuck at port, unable to disembark due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases among the guests and crew. For weeks afterwards, crew members were practically abandoned on the ships, with no idea how or when they would get home. They recorded videos and spoke to news outlets begging to be let off so they could return to their families. That wasn’t that long ago and the cruise industry is in no position to return at this stage in the pandemic, when cases are at an all time high. The CDC under Trump has given them the go-ahead for a phased return so of course they’re trying. One of the first cruise to return to the Caribbean, where cruising is still allowed, had at least seven cases among a little over 50 passengers plus crew. We know the number because cruise enthusiasts on that ship Tweeted about it. The cruise company, SeaDream, has not revealed the number to the press. It was supposed to be a seven day cruise but it got cut short and the ship was returned to Barbados. People who tested negative were let off on Saturday.

Ben Hewitt and David McDonald are quarantining on board SeaDream Yacht Club’s SeaDream I, a cruise ship that has had at least seven COVID-19 cases on board, according to an announcement from the ship’s captain, and is currently docked in Barbados.

“We were surprised when we heard the news that the virus was on board,” Hewitt told USA TODAY Friday, noting that passengers were required to have two negative COVID-19 tests prior to boarding and had their temperatures checked daily. The ship, they said, was also cleaned daily.

The ship was one of the first cruise ships to sail in Caribbean waters since the pandemic began and ended its trip early after multiple passengers tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Thursday.

USA TODAY has reached out to SeaDream for updates.

The married couple, who create YouTube videos about cruises and have nearly 70,000 subscribers on the video platform, have been providing updates on the situation via Twitter. They have been on the ship for about three weeks after embarking in Portsmouth, in the United Kingdom, they said.

“Now 7 cases onboard as a the other half of a couple who tested positive yesterday has also tested positive,” they wrote on Twitter Friday. “Everyone else has tested negative Apparently all negative passengers will all be free to leave the ship and travel and fly home tomorrow.”

Hewitt and McDonald have each had six tests since their journey began.

“Before boarding, we had one full PCR antigen lab test, then one using the ships abbot rapid testing machine,” Hewitt explained. “Whilst on board we have also had one full PCR test in Portugal and two full PCR tests in Barbados as well as another rapid test on board the ship yesterday.”

The SeaDream I was carrying 66 crew and more than 50 passengers, with the majority of passengers hailing from the U.S. according to Sue Bryant, who is aboard the ship and is a cruise editor for The Times and The Sunday Times in Britain.

Bryant told The Associated Press that one passenger became sick on Wednesday and forced the ship to turn back to Barbados, where it had departed from on Saturday.

“New passengers from the U.S. and Canada arrived on Saturday – the passengers who have the virus boarded that day,” Hewitt told USA TODAY, noting those passengers boarded in Barbados. “They had to have at least two tests before boarding.”

[From USA Today]

The couple interviewed by USA Today, who run the Cruise with Ben and David Twitter account, have since returned to England. They were on that ship for about three weeks, which left for a seven day cruise about a week ago. They seemed to have been taking back-to-back cruises without incident until now. As USA Today mentioned, the people boarding the last trip brought it onboard after having false negative tests. Ben and David defended the cruise company’s preventative measures, but made it clear that masks were not required or enforced on board. Of course they weren’t.

Meanwhile Democratic members of Congress are requesting that the CDC reinstate the “No Sail Order” for US waters that expired at the beginning of the month. You know how far that’s going to get under this administration.

Read this tweet. Even after a covid outbreak people were still not wearing masks.

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24 Responses to “One of the first cruises to return a disaster, trip cut short after at least 7 cases”

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  1. Erin says:

    I don’t feel bad for anyone who gets sick after taking a cruise. Willfully ignorant.

  2. (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

    It’s just so hard to understand how people can be so damned stupid.

    • Mac says:

      My mom and I took a Viking cruise in 2019 and they have been calling me throughout the pandemic to try to sell us another cruise. Are they nuts? We’ll never step foot on a ship again.

  3. Becks1 says:

    I love cruises and I don’t know when I’ll cruise again. Maybe never, to be honest. Talk about a floating petri dish. This is a good example – small ship, ample testing (although I think masks should have been required in all common areas) and it still had an outbreak.

  4. Jess says:

    A negative test means Jack shit with such a long incubation period, the viral load needs time to build up and show positive in a test. I see it all the time, one spouse tests positive and the other sighs relief, or a child is positive and the parent is negative, they won’t stay negative for long in most cases. People are so anxious to get back to normal and not be stuck inside and I get it, but covid doesn’t work that way. We can’t just ignore it and pretend it’s not killing thousands of Americans every single day.

    • Agirlandherdog says:

      Plus the rapid testing has an obscenely high false positive rate. So just because you test negative doesn’t mean you don’t have it, or couldn’t develop a high enough viral load to test positive 12 hours later.

      Does anyone else feel like Ben & David were probably paid to endorse the cruise lines covid procedures?

    • FancyPants says:

      Exactly! All of those “negative” passengers need to be quarantined at the dock for 14 days before they get on planes and take it home with them!

  5. indywom says:

    i just don’t get why people are so stupid. I have had to give up on family events and make plenty of sacrifices. All the people who have not seen their grandchildren or family member in months are being held hostage by a bunch of selfish arseholes. There are many days that I think about living anywhere but the US. I am still amazed that 73 million people voted for Donald Trump.

  6. Case says:

    All I can think when I read this stuff is “no sh!t.” We’re still in the middle of a pandemic whether people like it or not. There are some things we can’t, or really shouldn’t, do until we have a widely distributed vaccine. The sooner people accept that the sooner this will be over with. I don’t get what’s so hard about the concept of the longer we try to be “normal,” the longer we’ll be stuck in this mess.

    I barely leave my home, haven’t seen extended family in months, have canceled trips, canceled holidays with loved ones through the end of the year, and spent most of the year with a reduced salary. It offends me that people feel so entitled to these luxuries right now when so many people are dying every day.

  7. lucy2 says:

    I can’t believe they weren’t requiring masks everywhere. Actually, I can’t believe they tried to run a cruise right now as cases are spiking world wide again.
    I feel bad for those who work in the travel industry, but trying to push forward as if it’s all ok with some testing and hand sanitizer is only going to make things worse, for longer.

  8. theothermadeline says:

    I would reconsider your wording when you say ‘false negative’ tests without allowing for the possibility that the tests were administered too early. PCR tests are highLy accurate both positive and negative, however a person’s viral load doesn’t typically get high enough for detection until 4-5 days into incubation after exposure.

    Also I would appreciate if you called out that the blogging couple keeps saying PCR antigen as though they are the same thing – they are very different types of tests. PCR is gold standard, antigen is typical for rapid testing and won’t pick up infections as early in incubation periods as PCR.

    Also requiring tests ahead of time is a dumb policy as tests are just a snapshot of the day they are taken. These companies need to require pre-isolation periods.

  9. lola says:

    I thought for a hot second that the guy with the glasses was Ben Affleck.,,Whoops.

    Cruises have always been a giant virus and bacteria spreader, so I’m def not going on one during a deadly pandemic.

  10. Sarah says:

    Does 2020 suck? Yes.
    Are we all missing things we can’t do at the moment due to the pandemic? YES.
    Are we looking forward to getting some of those things back? Totally.

    Is there still a global pandemic killing thousands daily? Also yes. Suck it up and accept that you can’t act like you used to for the time being..

    • ME says:

      I have to correct you though. SOME of us have given up our normal lives to help protect ourselves and others. However, I have seen many a$$holes (some related to me) that don’t seem to give a damn about this virus and have not changed their lives one bit. In fact, I know someone who has had more house parties in the last few months than she’s ever had before. I have neighbors who are health care workers and had numerous get togethers since the damn beginning of this pandemic. It’s disgusting and I’ve lost so much respect for a lot of people I know.

  11. Chaine says:

    Cruise ships have always been floating buckets of disease. Every year we hear about cruises beset by norovirus outbreaks. Why do passengers think it will be any different with COVID?

  12. Keroppi says:

    Floating in a huge petri dish in the midst of a deadly pandemic with the possibility of getting quarantined on the ship for 2+ weeks in a tiny room sounds like my kind of vacation!

  13. FHMom says:

    We went on a short 4 day cruise a few years ago. About 3 or 4 hours before we were supposed to disembark (after wining and dining you they make you leave super early) my son woke up puking his guts out. He threw up for nearly 24 hours. Never again. As previous people have said, it’s a floating Petri dish.

  14. Ange says:

    Considering cruise ships were responsible for large corona outbreaks in Australia I can’t understand why anyone is going anywhere near them. We KNOW any illness that gets on board rips through the place, they’re so gross.