A cruise ship in St. Lucia has been quarantined. That’s a normal sentence. Interesting, but not jarring. You might find yourself wondering why they were quarantined. But this story is richer. Stranger. Filled with more intrigue. Because what really happened is that a Church of Scientology-owned cruise ship was quarantined due to a potential measles outbreak, according to health officials from the small Caribbean island.
According to CNN, health officials received a tip from two sources that someone on board the Freewinds had measles, a highly contagious virus that is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, and really any contact with the infected person. As St. Lucia is a small island nation, they decided to quarantine the ship at Port Castries. The measles case has since been confirmed, and as a result, none of the 300 passengers or crew members are allowed to disembark to prevent the spread of the highly-contagious virus.
The Freewinds is used as a religious retreat for the controversial church, whose website describes the vessel as a “safe, aesthetic, distraction-free environment appropriate for ministration of this profoundly spiritual level of auditing.” The fact that there’s a case of measles on board is perhaps not surprising. After all, according to the New York Times, the Church of Scientology has no official (read: public) position on vaccination, but several high-profile members of the church are outspoken anti-vaxxers.