The cruise industry is eager to set sail once again, but covid-19 is saying not so fast, at least for one vessel. After many nations banned commercial cruises, some for years, a few initial voyages set sail to test the waters in remaining viable ports, and sadly for some, it wasn’t long lived.
A Norwegian expedition vessel, the Hurtigruten ‘MS Roald Amundsen’ experienced a covid-19 outbreak on its maiden post covid-19 voyage, where 36 crew members tested positive, but test results were too late to stop 100’s of passengers from disembarking into local communities, just days ago.
The first voyage left in mid July, followed by a subsequent journey.
Two initial cruises set sail, carrying a combined 387 passengers, all of which would have likely come into contact with the crew members who tested positive, creating a high likelihood that many other covid-19 cases are unaccounted for.
According to USA Today, The cruise line contacted passengers to initiate 14 day self isolation for all guests of the first two voyages, but by the time tests were conducted and passengers were notified, many had already re-entered local communities and returned to social gatherings.
It appears covid-19 and cruises just don’t mix, even on a smaller scale. The news is disheartening, in part because this was not a mega cruise ships holding thousands of passengers, but rather a boutique ship operating in an area of relatively low covid-19 outbreak.
It doesn’t send positive indications of what a larger cruise in a more covid-19 struck region might endure. Accordingly, the cruise industry is expected to be among travel businesses worst hit by the global pandemic, just after rental cars. But Nonetheless, operators such as TUI currently have ships with more than 2,000 passengers sailing, and only time will tell how these early voyages fare.
The current lack of cruises around the world has created opportunity for those happy to see the back of these massive ships. Cruise ports which experienced over tourism in recent years are now all but empty, bringing experiences in cities like Dubrovnik, Greek Islands and Venice which haven’t been imagined in decades.