Scientology cruise ship Freewinds’ passengers cleared of measles risk, the church says

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

All of the passengers and crew of a cruise ship owned and operated by the Church of Scientology have been cleared from the risk of spreading or contracting measles after a female staffer on board was isolated with the highly contagious disease, Scientology officials said Tuesday.

The ship, named the Freewinds, was originally quarantined in St. Lucia late last month before it set sail for its home port of Curacao with about 300 people on board.

Those aboard the ship who had been vaccinated or had the measles before were free to leave the 440-foot vessel, health officials said May 4. Everyone else would be vaccinated while on board. A doctor aboard the ship had ordered about 100 doses of the measles vaccine before leaving St. Lucia.

The Church of Scientology statement said, “All passengers and crew (100 percent) of the Freewinds have been fully cleared of any possible risk of being infected by the measles or infecting others.”

“Freewinds protocols of safety and medical care, that exceed usual nautical standards, proved highly effective in containing the illness to one single case.” the statement said.

The church said in a statement dated May 5 that the woman, who had been “isolated, per ship protocol, in a single-patient medical room with a special controlled-air ventilation system,” was “symptom-free.”

Measles causes fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and rashes. While most people recover, complications can cause brain swelling and death.

More than 700 people in the United States have been sickened by the disease this year — the highest number of reported cases in a year since 1994. Officials say the sudden spike is due to misinformation about vaccines.

The Church of Scientology had not previously responded to NBC News’ requests for comment about the ship. The Freewinds is “home of the Flag Ship Service Organization (FSSO), a religious retreat ministering the most advanced level of spiritual counseling in the Scientology religion,” the church’s website says.