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COVID-19 Outbreak Forces SeaDream To Cancel Sailings

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Norwegian-owned cruise ship operator SeaDream I, which set out to prove passengers could safely cruise during the
coronavirus pandemic, has canceled sailings for the rest of the year after several passengers and staff tested positive on one of its cruises.

The ship departed Barbados on November 7th and passengers and crew tested several times before sailing.

Miami-based maritime attorney Jim Walker says, "The cruise line said come on this cruise. It is a luxury vacation. Nothing to worry about and we encourage you to not wear a mask which turned out to be a very bad idea."

"There were good testing protocols but they forgot the mask portion of it as a vital portion of it," Walker adds.

By November 11, one passenger tested positive for COVID-19 and the SeaDream I returned to Barbados.

Eventually, a total of seven guests and two crew members tested positive.

It became a public relations nightmare for the cruise industry, idled by the pandemic and hoping to eventually resume modified operations.

"There was so much promotion about this cruise, this wonderful watershed event in cruising and we are gonna prove that cruises can safely be done in a pandemic and they are not going to have a mask problem. Come on the ship. It will be wonderful and I thought this was a recipe for disaster," said Walker.

With travel writers and bloggers on board, what went down was chronicled for the entire world to watch.

Walker says, "This is bad news. This is the worst thing that could have happened to the cruise industry as a whole."

"The cruise industry is very sensitive to any type of criticism that they are floating Petri dishes or a super spreader event at sea. Very sensitive to that," said Walker.

Major cruise lines are hoping to set sail this coming summer, hoping to build passenger demand, following CDC guidelines which include masks.

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With billions of dollars on the line, Miami as the sea cruise capital of the world has more than felt the economic impact.

"My thought is that lessons to be learned... you cannot safely cruise without a vaccine," said Walker.

When the operators of the SeaDream I were contacted, they issued a statement saying they have canceled their sailing for the rest of the Caribbean winter season.

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