Dusseldorf At least in the United States, it has been official since Sunday: “US citizens, especially travelers with health problems, should not travel by cruise ship,” warned the State Department in Washington. The national health organization CDC has determined that there is “an increased risk of coronavirus infection from person to person” on board.
The ocean liners have also been facing headwinds from Germany’s Ministry of Health since Sunday. Events with more than 1,000 participants should be canceled for the time being, Jens Spahn (CDU) recommended to the news agency dpa. Vacationers could also assign cruises to such events. The ships from Aida, MSC, Tui Cruises or NCL usually hold far more than 2,500 guests.
The shipping companies were closed on Monday on request. “We currently have no cruise ship stationed in Germany, the season does not start until the end of March, beginning of April”, a spokeswoman for MSC avoided a clear statement. “Cruises are not mass events,” said competitor Tui Cruises. “Cruises are a form of travel.” Aida left the request entirely unanswered.
Sharp access controls
“Transferring the Spahn recommendation to the cruise would be completely overinterpreted,” Helge H. Grammerstorf from the industry association Clia also said. Eventually, the event participants were not crowded together on the ships as closely as at trade fairs or concerts. In addition, there are sharp access controls to the ships that are supposed to keep infected people from board. “There is no one hundred percent security anywhere,” said Grammerstorf, “but it is higher here than on trains or planes.”
Regardless of this, the cruise line companies thin out their offers considerably. Tui Cruises prematurely ended a trip for “Mein Schiff 6” in Laem Chabang, Thailand, on Monday – as did all other trips in the current Asian season. The return trip of the guests is now being organized, it said in Hamburg. The sea voyage “Singapore to Dubai”, which was planned from March 18, was also canceled. Costa Crociere canceled a round trip from Singapore on Monday. Aida has also canceled eight cruises, all to Asia.
The world’s second largest cruise company, the US shipping company Royal Caribbean, try additional goodwill. Guests of the company’s own cruise lines “Celebrity Cruises” and “Azamara” are now allowed to cancel up to 48 hours before departure, CEO Richard Fain said on Monday.
In such cases, booked passengers received a credit for the full fare, which can be redeemed on trips of your choice in 2020 or 2021. “It is difficult to guess a month or more in advance which regions might be causing concern about the corona virus,” said the Royal Caribbean CEO.
Whether this is enough to stabilize the booking behavior, which has come under pressure, seems questionable. According to the many reports about quarantined cruise ships, according to a study by the online travel agent Holiday Pirates, more than a third of the respondents (35 percent) said that they wanted to avoid the ocean liners for the time being.
Several ships in quarantine
And the bad news doesn’t stop. Only last weekend there were serious complications in front of several cruise ports because the authorities feared the risk of infection from infected passengers. The US shipping company Princess Cruises, a subsidiary of the world’s largest cruise company Carnival Corporation, was hit hardest again. Since Sunday, dockers in Oakland, California, have been evacuating their “Grand Princess” ship with 3,533 guests and crew members with individual boats, which are scheduled for several days. 21 corona infections were reported on board, two of them among passengers.
At the same time, a port in Florida refused to enter the sister ship “Regal Princess”. The reason: Several crew members had previously served on board the “Grand Princess”.
In mid-February, the “Diamond Princess”, also a steamship of the US shipping company, with 3,700 passengers and crew members was put under quarantine in the port of Yokohama, Japan, for two weeks. An 80-year-old from Hong Kong had previously tested positive.
The ship then proved to be an incubator for the dangerous virus. 619 passengers were infected and six people died. If the passengers were disembarked immediately and isolated in hospitals, Swedish epidemiologists believe that the number of people infected could have been limited to 70.
On the weekend, 2,000 cruise guests also experienced an odyssey off the coast of Malta without there being a proven infection on board. The port of Valletta refused to allow the passengers of the “MSC Opera” to go ashore because an Austrian tourist was on board in February, who tested positive in early March.
Hoteliers are increasingly becoming victims of the corona fear. After a house with just under 1,000 beds was quarantined in Tenerife, German hostels report a rapid decline in guests – also due to the cancellation of large trade fairs. The average decline in bookings is 38 percent, the industry association Dehoga reported.
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