Cruise lines badly hit by Covid-19

2020-02-28T20:53:52+00:00 February 28th, 2020|Safety|

At least 27 cruise ships operating in Asia are known to have cancelled or modified their itineraries due to the Covid-19 virus outbreak at the time of writing.

Australasia and the US are the favourite new destinations along with northern and southern Europe.

Princess Cruises alone has cancelled 20 Asian cruises.

There is also the possibility of Italy and other European countries being affected with the closure of ports as the virus spreads.

The quoted cruise companies’ share prices have tanked this week in line with the world’s major stock markets, which have seen heavy falls.

For example, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), Carnival (CCL) and Royal Caribbean (RCL) share prices fell by more than 5% each on Monday as the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in South Korea, Italy and Iran escalated.

China has reacted by drafting in seven river cruise ships to house the tens of thousands of medical workers who have been drafted into Wuhan to contain the outbreak, according to Xinhua.

The first – ‘Blue Whale’ – arrived in Wuhan from Yichang, further down the Yangtze River. All seven ships will provide a total of 1,469 beds.

They are normally used for river cruises along the Three Gorges scenic area, Xinhua added.

Among the latest instances, ‘MSC Meraviglia’ was refused entry to ports in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands after one crew member tested positive for the common flu, MSC confirmed.

The crew member had travelled to Miami from Manila, via Istanbul, MSC said adding that he developed symptoms of common flu and tested positive to Type A influenza after he visited the ship’s 24/7 Medical Centre while already on board. He has no other symptoms.

“A cruise ship with over 4,500 passengers and over 1,600 crew members was denied access to the port of call in Ocho Rios, St Ann. The vessel arrived at approximately 0830 and upon inspection by the port health officials, it was discovered that a crew member was placed in isolation on board,” the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Wellness said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The crew member had a cough, fever and associated muscle pains with a travel history to a country of interest relating to the Covid-19.”

“In an abundance of caution, in order to provide protection to the health and safety of the residents of the Cayman Islands, the Government has denied permission for the cruise ship to call on Grand Cayman as previously scheduled,” said Caymans Minister for Health, Hon Dwayne Seymour.

On Wednesday, the ship was reported to be heading for Cozumel, Mexico, her next scheduled port of call.

MSC told newswires that the company was liaising with the local Mexican health authorities.

In addition, NYK Cruises has said it would cancel all cruises on ‘Asuka II’ scheduled for March in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The 1990-built ‘Asuka II’ offers short Japan-based cruises from Yokohama and Kobe. NYK also said that it would cancel its 103-day world cruise scheduled to depart from Japan on 2nd April returning in July.

Meanwhile, Princess Cruises is undertaking a search for a service provider with advanced, scientifically proven cleaning and disinfection capabilities to perform work on board the stricken ‘Diamond Princess’.

Work will begin after the guests and crew have disembarked, following her period of quarantine in Yokohama.

The company claimed that it was seeking proposals and estimates from the most technologically advanced service providers in this business.

The cruise company said it is planning the management of an extensive out of service cleaning, disinfection and refurbishment period.

The exact location of the project will be announced soon.

“Our focus continues to be on the safety and well-being of our guests and crew. We are seeking to identify the best resources to partner with to clean and disinfect the ship from bow to stern,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises President.

“To accomplish this critically important undertaking, Princess will engage a vendor that has experience in significant cleaning and disinfection projects and experience in the use of the disinfectant agent Virox, which is well-known to be an effective disinfectant. The expert use of personal protective equipment is also a requirement for the chosen service provider.”

Princess detailed the areas and requirements for cleaning and disinfecting, which include, but are not limited to, the following locations and all surfaces:

• Staterooms: the removal and proper disposal of all towels (bath, face, hand), bed linens, mattress pads, pillows, duvets, shower curtains, and mattresses

• Carpets, draperies, and other soft furnishings

• All corridors and handrails

• Housekeeping storage and service areas

• Galleys, pantries, dishes, service ware

• Restaurant and food and beverage areas

• Entertainment areas

• Public venues (retail shops, spa, salon, fitness centre, etc)

• Technical and machinery spaces

• All crew living areas

• All deck areas and handrails

• Medical Centre

• Air handling units and ventilation- Cleaning and disinfecting of air handling units including ducts, fan rooms, coils and systems will be developed by Princess’ Technical Services separately using specialist cleaning contractors

• All marine, hotel and operations equipment

• Any other areas required after an appropriate assessment.

Companies who wish to submit a proposal should be able to comply with detailed standards set forth by experts in health protocols and administration, such as the Japanese Ministry of Health, the US Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation, in addition to the operational standards established by Princess Cruises, the company confirmed.

It has been revealed this week that Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co, Ltd, is carrying out for repairs and maintenance work on three Costa Crociere quarantined cruise vessels.

‘Costa Atlantica’ was drydocked for the repair and maintenance on 20th February, while ‘Costa Venezia’ and ‘Costa Serena’ were berthed alongside for regular maintenance on 21st and 22nd February, respectively.

Prevention of Covid-19 virus infection has been the highest priority issue for Costa, Mitsubishi and the relevant Japanese authorities, Mitsubishi said.

All three vessels were legitimately quarantined by the local Quarantine Branch when entering Japan, and the repair and maintenance work is being carried out under the strict control of the infection prevention procedures of both Costa and Mitsubishi.