Yesterday, seventy-two (72) of the two hundred and thirty (230) crew members on the silver cloud operated by Silversea Cruises (Silversea Expeditions) has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a cruise ship crew member who wishes to remain anonymous.
Uninfected infected crew members are now quarantined on the ship. Twenty-nine (29) other 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) have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are close contacts of infected ship employees.
During this time, the silver cloud sails with guests on her regular route to Antarctica. The ship departed Punta Arenas earlier this week for Drake Passage. He arrived at Greenwich Island today. He is due to sail to the Antarctic Peninsula tomorrow and return to Punta Arenas on February 20.
Crew members have been working to try to cover all work on the ship and continue to provide services to guests. A crew member commented:
“We don’t know how long we can continue this. I personally think, with this number of positive crews, that we are putting the rest of the crew as well as all the passengers at risk. Several crew members have this concern. But no one is heard. The upper bank management does not consider any complaints about this from the crew, so we will try to continue the cruise.
This massive number of infected crew members comes at a time when many cruise lines are relaxing their mask policies.
Silversea Cruises still has a mask policy. Its written protocols state that, except “when seated in restaurants, at bar tables and in outdoor spaces in which physical distancing can be maintained,” customers will be “required to wear a mask in all public spaces. interiors, terminals and during shore excursions . The crew will wear masks at all times.
Silversea is also one of several luxury cruise lines that have required their customers to receive booster shots before they can sail. Two weeks ago, Silversea Cruises announced that all travelers who have booked a voyage that departs March 1 or later will now be required to show proof of receipt of an approved COVID-19 reminder before boarding.
Parent company Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, said it would soon no longer mandate mask-wearing. Royal Caribbean told the Washington Post it would allow its last mask requirement to expire on Feb. 14, “reverting to a pre-omicron policy in which passengers could go without face coverings in areas designated for people fully vaccinated, including some bars, lounges, restaurants, theaters and casinos.
Abandoning masks and social distancing protocols at this point is premature, regardless of public sentiment, as this situation clearly proves.
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Photo credit: Brian Burnell with permission uploaded to Commons by George Hutchinson CC BY-SA 3.0 commons / wikimedia.