MSC Magnifica, Costa Deliziosa and Pacific Princess disembark passengers after weeks at sea
The last three cruise ships on the globe still sailing with passengers dock this week in what may be the industry’s most extraordinary milestone.
After three-and-a-half months at sea, the MSC Magnifica docked in Marseille, France, with 1,760 passengers, and not a single case of the coronavirus that has threatened to sink the cruise industry.
The Costa Deliziosa made a port call in Barcelona Monday, April 19 to disembark 168 Spanish passengers and on Wednesday, April 21 will disembark the remainder of the 1,814 guests who set sail from Venice, Italy 15 weeks ago on around the world cruise. Not one of the passengers or 896 crew were infected with coronavirus.
Last stop for Pacific Princess
The 115 remaining passengers aboard the Pacific Princess also disembark Monday in Los Angeles after departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on what was to have been a 113-day round-the-world voyage of a lifetime. The other passengers disembarked in Australia on March 21 and flew home. The remaining passengers are free of coronavirus, but were unable to fly due to health restrictions.
While, passengers of some cruise liners experienced outbreaks of COVID-19 with passengers quarantined and fatalities suffered among guests and crew on several ships, at least some on board the MSC Magnifica and the Costa Deliziosa described being confined on a luxury cruise liner in the midst of a global pandemic as a “stroke of luck.”
“It was not surreal. It was incredible,” Carlos Payá told The Associated Press. ¨We have family in our home countries. The news that was arriving from home was causing us all a lot of worry and grief. For us, it was a stroke of good luck to be where we were.”
Smooth sailing high spirits
According to the AP, the ship’s owner Italian cruise company Costa Crociere, said, because the ship is Italian-flagged, “it followed Italian precautionary measures in the pandemic, including social distancing between guests, limiting the number of people who could enter food areas at any one time, and transmitting entertainment to cabin TV sets.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though as several hundred French passengers had wished to disembark at the port of Marseille, but the French authorities denied the ship permission.
The BBC, in a must-read account of the MSC Magnifica’s voyage, quotes passenger Andy Gerber, who turned 70 on board, and said that life on “the last cruise ship on Earth” had still been enjoyable despite being at sea without land visits.
“There is still plenty to do if you want,” he says. “Gym, games, shows, dance classes…
“We have two pools and perfect weather, plenty to eat and drink, and we have made a lot of friends – especially during all these sea days.”
Captain Roberto Leotta told the BBC: “We found ourselves [globally] in a situation where Covid-19 has been isolating people and distancing people…Here was the opposite. We became like a family – our guests and our crew together. The spirit has been beautiful.”
Leotta, a 32-year cruise industry veteran and a third generation sailor told the BBC he was confident the cruise industry would bounce back from the coronavirus crisis.
“We will return to cruising, and we will return better prepared than before with more experience. We are learning a lot, we will be there stronger than ever before.”