An attempt by SeaDream Yacht Club to provide a COVID-19 free cruise for passengers this week didn't go as planned.
SeaDream 1 was the first vessel to set sail in the Caribbean Saturday after a prolonged pause in operations due to the pandemic. A few days into the trip, a passenger has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to The Points Guy.
The passenger tested positive on a preliminary basis after taking a rapid test on Wednesday, prompting the ship to make an immediate return to Barbados, the outlet reported.
The captain of the vessel announced the results of the rapid test over the intercom just before noon while the ship was anchored in the Grenadines and told passengers to return to their cabins for isolation. Nonessential crew members were also told to isolate, according to the outlet.
Industry experts applauded the company's efforts in deploying onboard safety protocols to keep passengers safe.
"There is a dual focus on limiting the risk of onboard exposure and containing any positive cases to eliminate the potential for onboard transmission," Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, told FOX Business.
The ship, with 53 passengers and 66 crew members, had set sail for the first time on Saturday, marking what was supposed to be a pivotal moment for an industry hit hard by the pandemic.
Cruise lines canceled sailings in Asia when the outbreak was mostly limited there, but bookings dropped and cancellations rose just about everywhere as the virus spread. In mid-March, the CDC ordered cruise ships to stop sailing to U.S. ports after several vessels reported outbreaks onboard.
Although the CDC's order only stretched through Oct. 31, and the agency has since outlined conditions for the resumptions of sailings, dozens of cruise lines have extended their pause through the end of the year due to the spike in COVID-19 cases around the globe.
In its latest notice, the CDC reiterated that there is an "increased risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships" and a "careful approach" is needed to resume operations.
Cruise Lines International Association, the industry's trade group, said the pause in operations is to help members "prepare for the implementation of extensive measures to address COVID-19 safety" under guidance from public health experts.
"Those learnings will be paramount to a more robust return to service, particularly here in the U.S." she said. "The primary focus of cruise lines continues to be the safety of their guests, crew members and the communities they visit across the globe."
For now, all "eyes are on cruises that are currently sailing," McDaniel said.
Prior to embarking on the journey, passengers on SeaDream had to test negative for COVID-19 several days in advance of boarding and on the day of boarding in order to create a COVID-free “bubble” on the ship, according to The Points Guy.
After Wednesday's announcement, all the ship’s crew and passengers were tested again for COVID-19. By Wednesday evening, all of the crew members had tested negative, the outlet reported.
McDaniel noted that while this is encouraging news, "what’s still to be determined is whether there is any onboard transmission."
Representatives for SeaDream did not respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
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