Seattle operator cancels Alaska cruises after Covid-19 positive test

UnCruise Adventures‘ first Alaska sailing has ended early because a passenger tested positive for Covid-19.

The Wilderness Adventurer, which departed Saturday, was due back in Juneau yesterday (Aug. 5), and all passengers were to be quarantined at a local hotel paid for by the company. The crew will quarantine on the vessel in port.

The Seattle-based overnight operator — expected to be the only one cruising in Alaska this season — has canceled the four remaining week-long Glacier Bay cruises. The 60-passenger, 156’x38’x6’ Wilderness Adventurer had 37 passengers and 30 crew on board with occupancy capped at 66%.

“This is very discouraging news and not what we had hoped for, but we’ll deal with it professionally. The guests are taking the news well, and the crew has executed our contingency plan quickly,” UnCruise owner and CEO Dan Blanchard said in a company announcement.

The passenger received a phone call Tuesday from the state with the positive test results while onboard. As required by UnCruise, the passenger had taken the five-day testing option prior to departure from home and had a negative result, the company said. A second test taken on arrival at the Juneau airport resulted in a positive. The passenger is showing no symptoms, and no other passengers or crew are showing outward symptoms. Everyone was asked to stay in their cabins.

The company said all precautions were taken before the trip and they are working closely with state and local health officials “to comply with relevant protocols and their own safety standards.”

“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,” Blanchard said.

Other small boat owners have either suspended sailings in Alaska until next year or not yet announced restart dates. Members of the U.S. Overnight Passenger Small-Boat Operators Coalition, which Blanchard organized, have been adjusting restart dates on river cruises as they grapple with regulatory issues and the general impact of the virus.

Bigger ships that carry at least 250 overnight passengers and crew in U.S. waters come under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) no-sail order that was recently extended through Sept. 30.

Also on Wednesday, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents the major foreign-flag lines, said members agreed to voluntarily suspend U.S. cruise operations until at least Oct. 31. “Should conditions in the U.S. change and it becomes possible to consider short, modified sailings, we would consider an earlier restart,” the group said.

About the author

Dale K. DuPont

Dale DuPont has been a correspondent for WorkBoat since 1998. She has worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Texas, Maryland, and most recently as a business writer and editor at The Miami Herald, covering the cruise, marine and other industries. She and her husband once owned a weekly newspaper in Cooperstown, N.Y., across the alley from the Baseball Hall of Fame. A South Florida resident, she enjoys sailing on Biscayne Bay, except in hurricane season.

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