Yesterday, seventy-two (72) out of two hundred and thirty (230) crew members were on the Silver Cloud operated by Silversea Cruises (Silversea Expeditions) tested positive for COVID-19, according to a crew member of the cruise ship who wished to remain anonymous.
Uninfected infected crew members are now quarantined on the ship. Another twenty-nine (29) crew members appear to be close contacts and are also in isolation. This means that one hundred and one (101) crew members (44% of the crew) tested positive for either both COVID-19 or are close contacts of infected ship employees.
Meanwhile the Silver Cloud sails with guests on its regular route to Antarctica. The ship sailed from Punta Arenas to the Drake Passage earlier this week. It arrived in Greenwich Island today. It is scheduled to sail to the Antarctic Peninsula tomorrow and return to Punta Arenas on February 20.
Crew members have been working to cover all jobs on the ship and continue to provide guest service. A crew member commented:
“We don’t know how much longer we can keep this up. I personally think that with this amount of positive crew we are putting the rest of the crew at risk as well as all the passengers. Several crew members have these concerns. But no one is heard. Upper Shoreside Management is not considering any complaints from the crew regarding this, so we will try to proceed with the cruise.”
This massive number of infected crew members comes at a time when many cruise lines are relaxing their mask policies.
Meanwhile, Silversea Cruises still has a mask policy. It is written logs Explain that, except “while seated in restaurants, at tables in bars and in outdoor areas where physical distancing can be maintained”, guests must “wear a mask in all indoor public areas, terminals and on shore excursions.” The crew will wear masks at all times.”
Silversea is also one of several luxury cruise lines that require guests to receive booster vaccinations prior to cruising. Two weeks ago, Silversea Cruises announced that all travelers booked on voyages scheduled for January 1st required to demonstrate receipt of an approved COVID-19 booster shot before boarding.
The parent company Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, has declared that it will soon no longer be compulsory to wear a mask. This was announced by Royal Caribbean Washington Post that: it will allow its latest Mask requirement phased out on February 14 and “return to a pre-Omicron policy where passengers could travel without face coverings in areas designated for fully vaccinated people, including some bars, lounges, restaurants, theaters and casinos.”
The abandonment of mask and social distancing protocols at this time is premature, regardless of public opinion, as this situation clearly demonstrates.
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Photo credit: Brian Burnell Uploaded to Commons by George Hutchinson with permission CC BY-SA 3.0 Commons/Wikimedia.