The new Covid-19 variant is hindering the global cruise recovery
Across the globe, cruise lines are being impacted by the ongoing pandemic and the latest, more contagious Covid-19 variant, Omicron, despite strict safety protocols.
Royal Caribbean International’s Spectrum of the Seas – which has been sailing short, all-at-sea cruises from Hong Kong since September 2021 – cancelled its 6 January sailing following notification from the Hong Kong Department of Health regarding “nine close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 infected individual” travelling on Spectrum of the Seas’ 2 January 2022 sailing.
The nine guests effected were quarantined and PCR tested, and the ship returned to Hong Kong where all guests and crew were tested on both the 5 and 7 January.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised its cruise ship travel warning to the highest level in January, stating that 5,000 coronavirus cases were reported in the last two weeks of December, 31 times more than the reported cases in the first two weeks of the same month.
To protect the locals, some cruise ships are no longer allowed to call at certain ports
Just before Christmas, around 300 guests on board the Tui Cruises’ Mein Schiff 4 had to end their trip on Gran Canaria prematurely due to corona infections.
International media reported that Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ MS Europa and MS Europa 2 had to cancel their New Year sailings from Mauritius to the Maldives and from Dubai to Mauritius respectively, due to reported coronavirus cases.
In the latest news, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has announced cancellations to some of its sailings from January to April.
In a statement issued online, the company said: “All guests booked on these sailings will receive an automatic full refund returned to the form of payment provided at the time of reservation as well as a bonus Future Cruise Certificate valid for a future cruise. We understand the inconvenience and frustration this disruption may cause, and we appreciate the continued understanding of our loyal guests and travel agent partners. We will share additional information as appropriate.”
Not all sailings are being ended prematurely by Covid-19, however. In Italy, on 3 January, after 45 passengers tested positive they were disembarked from the MSC Grandiosa in the port of Genoa before the ship continued its voyage.