The Caribbean is taking its first steps for the resumption of cruising after more than six months since the pandemic forced the suspension of the vital tourism industries. Luxury yacht cruise line SeaDream Yacht Club is preparing to launch what will likely become the first cruises into the Caribbean.
SeaDream is announcing plans to send its 112-passenger luxury cruise ship the SeaDream 1 to Barbados to operate 22 primarily seven-day cruises sailing to Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It will also be the first time since the onset of the pandemic that cruises will be marketed in both the U.S. and Europe.
These cruises come after SeaDream launched a successful summer program of cruises from Norway. With just six weeks of advance planning, SeaDream announced it would reposition one of its two yacht cruise ships to Norway during the summer. The program was so well received that the company decided to send both its ships to Norway for the summer season.
Now with just over seven weeks of preparation, the company plans to return one of its ships to the Caribbean for a program starting November 7, 2020, and running till April 2021. Full details on the program are currently being uploaded to the company’s website with the official announcement expected next week.
SeaDream highlights the success of its health protocols during the summer cruise season. Operations proceeded smoothly and when one past passenger asymptomatic when he returned home to Denmark had a potentially positive COVID-19 test, they report that their protocols were implemented as designed. The SeaDream 1 was briefly taken from service. All passengers and crew tested negative for the virus and in a later test the past passenger also tested negative.
According to Emilio Freeman, Vice President, Itineraries & Destination for SeaDream, the only restrictions they anticipated will largely be controlled by Barbados, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Grenada. As the cruises will not be sailing from the U.S., and due to the intimate size of the vessels, SeaDream will not come under the jurisdiction of the U.S. CDC. The company, however, will continue to implement its health protocols to maintain the safety of its passengers and crew as well as the ports the cruise ship visits.
Barbados is requiring that all incoming passengers to have a valid COVID-19 test result that must be administered no later than 72 hours before arrival according to Freeman. He says the requirement is regardless of whether the person is arriving from a high, medium, or low-risk country. If the guest arrives with an old test or with no test, Barbados reserves the right to not permit the person to enter Barbados. SeaDream will also require that all guests agree to a COVID-19 test at the pier before boarding.
The Grenadines and Grenada will also restrict guests from going ashore. All guests wanting to go ashore will be allowed to do so only in organized groups to pre-established beach and land sites as outlined by these two countries.
So far, SeaDream is the only cruise line that has launched a winter Caribbean cruise program although several other lines are reported to be exploring the possibility of programs. Some of the ports across the Caribbean, so far, have remained closed not anticipating the return of cruise ships before 2021.
Other islands appear more willing to work with the cruise lines for when they can resume operations. The Bahamas, which is a popular destination especially for the Florida-based cruise ships, recently indicated that it would be willing to work with the cruise lines that maintain private islands to permit cruises to those islands without initially visiting Nassau. The Bahamas Tourism Minister indicated that cruises to the private islands could be an interim step to resuming service before cruises resumed visits to the capital city of Nassau.
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