Passengers on the Caribbean cruise that ended its voyage early after multiple passengers tested positive for COVID-19, were allowed to disembark in Barbados over the weekend.
Sue Bryant, who lives in the U.K. and writes for Cruise Critic and was aboard the SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream I cruise ship, reported that on Saturday, "the Barbados government gave the go ahead for those of us who tested negative to fly home."
Bryant reported that the seven passengers who had tested positive left the ship Friday and were transferred to an isolation facility on Barbados. "The ship’s crew later told me that the group of six, including the man with the original Covid case, had returned home to the US by private jet, five of them having tested positive," she wrote.
After testing negative, other passengers, including Bryant, were allowed to leave the ship Saturday.
The SeaDream I was carrying 66 crew and more than 50 passengers, with the majority of passengers hailing from the U.S., according to Bryant. Two groups on board had members who tested positive: A couple and five members of a family of six from the United States.
It’s morning in Barbados and we’re still confined to the cabin, waiting for news, in this strange limbo. Update promised soon. Crew are being amazing. @SeaDreamYC
— Sue Bryant (@sjbryant) November 12, 2020
The ship left from Portsmouth, England, Oct. 19, and new passengers boarded in Barbados Nov. 7. Bryant told The Associated Press that one passenger became sick four days later, and the ship turned back to Barbados. While docked there for several days, passengers quarantined in their rooms.
The sailing that was cut short marked the first time SeaDream had resumed its West Indies voyages since the pandemic. It was one of the first cruise ships to sail in Caribbean waters since the pandemic began. The cruise line said in a press release that it "operated successfully earlier this year in Norway, completing 21 voyages during the summer season." Passengers were required to have two negative COVID-19 tests prior to boarding and had their temperatures checked daily.
Passengers remained isolated in their cabins aboard the SeaDream I until 2 p.m. Saturday, and then they departed for the airport in government-approved transfers and took commercial flights home.
"I still wonder why we were allowed to leave Barbados rather than made to quarantine, but the official line was that we had all presented two negative tests, one government-approved, and were free to go," Bryant wrote for Cruise Critic. "My opinion is that they wanted us off the island as soon as possible."
USA TODAY has reached out to the Barbados government and to SeaDream for more information.
The cruise line's latest situation update was posted on its website Thursday as the company was "awaiting authorization from the Barbados government to disembark guests safely."
“We are working closely with local health and government authorities to resolve this situation in the best possible way," Andreas Brynestad, SeaDream executive vice president, said in a statement. "Our main priority is the health and safety of our crew, guests, and the communities we visit.”
Though Bryant questioned the Barbados government's response, she praised the SeaDream I crew.
"We couldn’t have been better looked after by the amazing crew during this episode. I hope this hurdle can be overcome and that you sail again soon @SeaDreamYC," she wrote on Twitter.
Ben Hewitt and David McDonald, who create YouTube videos about cruises were also aboard the ship and chronicling the ordeal on social media.
"It's time to leave the SeaDream I after 26 nights onboard. It's a bittersweet moment after such s fantastic voyage on a wonderful ship until Covid hit. We thank the crew so much for trying to keep us safe," the couple tweeted alongside a photo with the ship in the background Saturday.
It's time to leave the SeaDream I after 26 nights onboard. It's a bittersweet moment after such s fantastic voyage on a wonderful ship until Covid hit. We thank the crew so much for trying to keep us safe. pic.twitter.com/V0hvI6GQaf
— Cruise with Ben & David (@CruiseWithBD) November 14, 2020
As of Friday, Hewitt told USA TODAY that he and McDonald had each had six negative COVID-19 tests since their journey began.
The couple tweeted Monday that they are "both doing and feeling well. Just doing a gigantic amount of washing and sorting out all our footage and photos!"
Contributing: Morgan Hines
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: SeaDream cruise ship with COVID-19 cases disembarks passengers