SEATTLE — In another frustrating setback for the cruise industry, a case of COVID-19 has dashed the first post-pandemic Alaska sailing for UnCruise Adventures, and prompted the cancellation of the rest of the line’s 2020 Alaska season, just three days after restarting operations.
The news comes the same week that Hurtigruten announced the suspension of all of its expedition cruises this month and next following a COVID-19 outbreak on an Arctic sailing, and a passenger onboard the Paul Gauguin tested positive on a Tahiti sailing.
Hurtigruten, Paul Gauguin and UnCruise Adventures were among the first small-ship cruise lines to lift their suspensions of operations and set sail again post-COVID-19.
UnCruise departed from Juneau on Aug. 1 with 37 passengers and 30 crew. The shortened season had five 7-night Glacier Bay Adventure departures on the schedule, with strong occupancy, according to the company.
Onboard protocols included additional physical distancing, added daily activity rosters, thorough testing and a self-imposed 66% occupancy cap for the Alaskan itineraries. With ships carrying fewer than 250 passengers and crew, UnCruise was not impacted by the CDC’s No Sail Order, currently in place until Sept. 30.
According to a statement on UnCruise’s website, on Aug. 4 a passenger aboard the Wilderness Adventurer received a positive COVID-19 test result from the State of Alaska. The first test result was negative, but the second was positive. UnCruise reports that the passenger is showing no symptoms, and no other guests or crew are showing outward symptoms.
All passengers onboard the Aug. 1 sailing have been informed and will quarantine until the State of Alaska deems it safe for them to return home, says the company.
In the wake of the incident UnCruise says it has suspended all future 2020 Alaska departures.
“Our guests and crew always come first, and we want to assure you that their health and well-being is our top priority. That is especially true in the ever-evolving world of COVID-19,” says the company.
“We wish to emphasize that UnCruise Adventures sees providing a safe and responsive environment for all travellers as imperative. All precautions were taken, as supported by public health authorities and interim guidelines.
“With the spotlight on the cruise and small boat industry we understand there are risks in operating and travel in general. With months of preparation we were still able to pivot quickly in response to this event.
“This unprecedented virus requires unprecedented standards and continues to change.”