A disappointing summer season for Greece during the COVID-19 pandemic got worse when 12 cases were discovered on a Malta-flagged cruise ship that had to return to Crete while heading to the island of Milos when the virus was detected in the crew.
The Mein Schiff 6 cruiseliner, operated by Germany's TUI Cruises, was carrying nearly 1,000 passengers although ships are considered breeding grounds for the Coronavirus but still allowed to sail despite the risks. The Shipping Ministry said the virus was found after 150 sample tests were taken.
There were no reports whether any passengers had contracted the disease or of the ship would be quarantined on return to Crete.
Greece said cruise ships would be welcome this summer but most people continue to shun them out of fear they could be trapped on board if there is an outbreak, as has happened with a number of the vessels.
The incident happened only a week after Greece allowed back its first large cruise ship, the Mein Schiff 6, pushing back scheduled summer openings because of a second wave resurging across the country and bringing more health protocols.
The ship arrived in Heraklion on Crete on Sept. 11 and sailed two days later on its week-long cruise. It made port calls in Piraeus for tours to Athens and at Corfu with no reports whether passengers who left were carrying the virus into the cities.
Passengers are only permitted to go ashore on the cruise line’s organized tours. TUI developed a comprehensive shore program including for example visits to the historic spots in Athens as well as beach excursions on Corfu, said The Maritime Executive.
Passengers use vehicles that have been disinfected and remain with their small groups with no reports how it would be possible to keep adults from wandering off and doing what they wanted while out.
Because of the continuing travel restrictions, TUI is offering the cruises as a complete package. They are bringing passengers to Crete aboard specially chartered airplanes. TUI is also arranging for the passengers to transfer to the ship on disinfected buses. Because the cruises include the air travel, TUI is having passengers take COVID-19 tests before leaving home for the cruise but it is covering the cost of those tests, the shipping site added.
Covid-19 testing for entire crew of 'Mein Schiff 6' cruiseship
The "Mein Schiff 6" cruiseship, 12 of whose crew members tested positive for the novel coronavirus after random testing, is expected to dock at Piraeus port around 05:00 on Tuesday, officials said on Monday, in an update.
It is expected to dock at the second international cruiseship station ("Themistocles") at Gate E 12 (former "Kanellou Gate"); no one will be allowed to disembark. Instead, a National Public Health Organization group will board the ship at 07:30 on Tuesday to retest the 12 and to test the rest of the crew and staff.