There was bad news for the cruise industry this week as Carnival Corporation’s German subsidiary AIDA Cruises was forced to cancel several August sailings after failing to receive authorization in time from its flag state, Italy, while five crew members aboard Royal Caribbean’s German joint venture, TUI Cruises Mein Schiff 1 were reported to have tested positive for COVID-19.
AIDA had been due to set sail on August 5 from Hamburg with reduced capacity on the 4,350 passenger AIDAPerla will be the first to set sail on, followed by the Sphinx Class AIDAmar, with a capacity of 2,686 passengers, from Rostock- Warnemünde on August 12 and the 2,192 passenger, Sphinx class AIDAblu from Kiel on August 16.
“Contrary to our expectations, the final formal approval for the start of the short trips from August 5, 2020 by our flag state Italy is still pending,” AIDA said in a statement provided to USA Today by Roger Frizzell, spokesperson for Carnival Corp., AIDA’s parent company.
“We very much regret this delay. We would have loved to welcome our guests back on board,” AIDA said in a statement. “We assume that we will receive the last formal approval by the flag state Italy in a timely manner.”
Last week, 10 AIDA crew members tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving at the German port of Rostock where they were due to board the AIDAblu and the AIDAmar. Despite the infections, AIDA Cruises had planned to continue with its restart, saying its protocols were working.
Crew members on Royal Caribbean’s TUI test positive
Meanwhile, the German cruise blog Kreuzfahrt-Aktuelles (Cruise News) reported that five crew members due to sail on the Mein Schiff 1 had tested positive for COVID-19.
Similar to AIDA Cruise, TUI said that the fact that the crew members were diagnosed prior to boarding showed that its protocols were working and that its planned sailing was canceled as not enough crew members were available.
“We had to cancel the first trip from/to Kiel because we were unable to fill certain positions on the start team of Mein Schiff 1 in good time due to global travel restrictions,” TUI said in a statement.
“…All new crew members are tested before they board the ship. Only crew members with a negative COVID-19 test go on board and remain in isolation for 14 days without contact to the crew already on board before starting their service.
“As part of this onboarding process, five crew members of Mein Schiff 1 tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently in a facility on land rented by TUI Cruises. This proves that the processes introduced are working. The responsible authorities are fully informed and involved.”
5 Crewmitglieder, die für den Neustart der Mein Schiff 1 vorgesehen sind, wurden vorab positiv auf das Coronavirus getestet. Gemäß des neuen Prozesses bei TUI Cruises durften die Mitarbeiter nicht an Bord, um eine Ausbreitung des Virus zu verhindern.https://t.co/x6CZDAU36W
— Kreuzfahrt Aktuelles (@cruisenews_de) July 29, 2020
Last week the Mein Schiff 2 successfully completed a three-day round trip from Hamburg with 1,200 passengers on board and without any reports of COVID infection.
Hurtigruten suspends expedition cruises after outbreak
Elsewhere, there has been more bad news for the cruise industry as French media reported a positive COVID-19 case aboard Ponant’s Paul Gaugin as it sailed in French Polynesia with all passengers now confined to their cabins awaiting disembarkation.
In Norway, after 36 crew members and several guests tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak onboard Hurtigruten’s expedition cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen the company on Monday suspended all expedition sailings on the Roald Amundsen, as well as MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Spitsbergen, until further notice.
“The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is Hurtigruten’s number one priority. We are now focusing all available efforts in taking care of our guests and colleagues. We are working closely with the Norwegian National and Local Health Authorities for follow-up, information, further testing, and infection tracking,” said Hurtigruten CEO, Daniel Skjeldam.
“In light of the recent increase in new cases of COVID-19 globally, the only responsible choice is to suspend all expedition sailings until we are absolutely confident, we can carry out our operations in line with all requirements from the Authorities and with the even stricter requirements we have set for ourselves,” he added.
The decision will have no impact on Hurtigruten’s coastal Norway operations, the company said in a statement.
According to the Italian press meanwhile, three crew aboard Costa Cruises Costa Favolosa and the Costa Deliziosa have tested positive while their ships docked at the port of Civitavecchia