SeaDream Yacht Club made official a plan to resume Caribbean cruises in November, on seven-day sailings from Barbados.
The line said starting Nov. 7 it will offer 22 sailings from Bridgetown that call in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. All three countries are open to Americans.
Emilio Freeman, vice president of destinations for SeaDream, calls the itinerary "perfectly in line with what we offer on SeaDream. They are places the billionaires go to get away from the millionaires."
The Norway-based line was among the first to resume cruises after the global cruise shutdown in March, when it redeployed both of its 100-passenger ships to Oslo in June, where it offered cruises along the Norwegian coast.
In early August, a Danish passenger who had disembarked the SeaDream I tested positive for Covid-19, but no other passengers or crew tested positive, and it was later determined to be a false-positive, Seadream said.
The SeaDream I will redeploy via a 21-day transatlantic sailing from Oslo to Barbados to launch the season. The ship will call in Denmark and the U.K. in order to allow people to board the ship at those ports. The cruises will go on sale tomorrow.
As of now, guests will not be mandated to wear masks onboard but will be encouraged to social distance. They will have to get tested 48-72 hours before flying into Barbados and before boarding will again be given a rapid test, which SeaDream said delivers results with 99% accuracy.
"This is backed up by medical experts," said executive vice president Andreas Brynestad. "What we have been told is that social distancing has a high probability of keeping you Covid-free. The masks have a lower chance of accomplishing the same thing. That's our current understanding from the medical advisors we work with. This is subject to change."
While onboard, "it's an entirely SeaDream experience," said Sudesh Kishore, senior vice president of hotel operations. "We don't want people to wear masks onboard. You won't see us walking around in masks. That's why we wanted people to be tested prior to embarkation. Once you are onboard you should enjoy the exact SeaDream experience you have enjoyed prior."
SeaDream is still working out the details of the port calls but said that based on preliminary conversations with local authorities, passengers will only be able to leave the ship in "an organized fashion to predesignated places," Freeman said. The line will offer its signature beach parties and watersports.
The line will employ all the protocols it had in place on its Norway cruises, such as no handshakes, social distancing in public areas, spacing out spa treatments and no self-serve buffets. New onboard will be the use of an Altapure ultrasonic disinfecting system that can kill any Covid-19 virus in the air.
Regarding the possibility of expanding Caribbean itineraries and of putting its second vessel on cruises out of St. Thomas, where SeaDream is generally based in the winter, Brynestad said it is too early to make any predictions but that he anticipates things will have changed by November.
"Come November, I think there will be a big change with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and what will happen in U.S. ports and the [U.S. Virgin Islands]," he said. "And I hope there is an opportunity to bring the other vessel over to some of those ports. We are working on it, but it's quite uncertain, and realistically we won't know anything for quite some time."
He added that SeaDream was able to plan the Barbados cruises based on "the cooperation with local government and local islands and them welcoming us."