A Caribbean cruise for high-level Scientologists is sounding more like hell on the high seas. According to authorities on the island of St. Lucia, a vessel has been quarantined after a female crew member was found to have the measles. Health officials declined to identify the ship, but a sergeant with the St. Lucia Coast Guard told NBC News that the vessel is the “Freewinds,” a 440-foot cruise ship with the Church of Scientology at the helm.
“Measles is a highly contagious disease. Anyone who is not adequately immunized against measles can contract the disease, if there has been close contact with a confirmed case,” Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James, St. Lucia’s chief medical officer, said in a statement. “It is therefore likely that other persons on the boat may have been exposed.”
St. Lucia hasn’t had a case of the measles since 1990, but the island nation is a popular tourist destination, and officials are wary of travelers bringing the disease in via plane or ship.
According to the Scientology website, the 440-foot Freewinds is “a religious retreat ministering the most advanced level of spiritual counseling.” It’s the home of the Flag Ship Service Organization, which exclusively administers the highest level of training and auditing, known as New OT VIII.
“To a Scientologist, boarding the Freewinds for New OT VIII is the pinnacle of a deeply spiritual journey,” the website reads. “The Freewinds is a very special place.” Indeed.
In the years past, the church has said it “takes no position one way or the other” in regards to vaccines, but high profile Scientologist like Juliette Lewis and Jenna Elfman have spoken out against vaccination requirements for children.
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