Advertisement

Passengers on world cruise expected to disembark after spending weeks without docking

Click to play video: 'Cruise ship bookings on the rise despite COVID-19' Cruise ship bookings on the rise despite COVID-19
WATCH ABOVE: Cruise ship bookings on the rise despite COVID-19 – Apr 16, 2020

ROME — Passengers on a luxury liner’s around-the-world cruise, begun before the globe was gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, are finally approaching the end of their odyssey after 15 weeks at sea.

Their ship, the Costa Deliziosa, heads to ports in Spain and Italy, two of the countries most devastated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Costa Crociere, an Italian cruise company, said Saturday that the Deliziosa, which set sail from Venice in early January with 1,831 passengers, has reached the western Mediterranean, with no cases of COVID-19 aboard.

READ MORE: Cruise ships have always struggled with outbreaks. Will things change after COVID-19?

The Deliziosa, a nearly 300-metre (1,000-foot) vessel, will disembark 168 Spanish passengers early next week at the port of Barcelona, Spain, the company said. Then the Deliziosa will head to its final destination, Genoa, Italy, where it is expected to disembark the remaining passengers, Italians and those of other nationalities, on Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

A company spokesman said a passenger left the ship earlier in the week in Marsala, Sicily, for health issues but not because of the coronavirus.

Canadian consular officials say the ship is one of several where citizens remain on board despite the pandemic.

“We continue to monitor 18 Canadian passengers and seven crew on three cruise ships, Costa Deliziosa, Pacific Princess and MSC Magnifica,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Saturday. “Global Affairs Canada is monitoring an additional 85 cruise ships with 299 Canadian crew and no Canadian passengers aboard.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Cruise ship with sick workers docks in Miami Beach, Fla.' Coronavirus outbreak: Cruise ship with sick workers docks in Miami Beach, Fla.
Coronavirus outbreak: Cruise ship with sick workers docks in Miami Beach, Fla – Mar 26, 2020

French authorities had rebuffed a request by Costa for permission to disembark several hundred passengers from France and nearby countries at Marseilles. “The health situation on board the ships, with 1,814 guests and 898 members of the crew, doesn’t present any problem for public health and no case of COVID-19,” Costa’s statement said.

Story continues below advertisement

While people infected with the coronavirus often experience mild or moderate symptoms, possible complications like pneumonia can put their lives at risk.

READ MORE: Booked a cruise and want to cancel? Here’s what you need to know

The Deliziosa was originally due to return to Venice on April 26. After the U.N. World Health Organization pandemic alert in March, the ship, which had just made a port call in Fremantle, western Australia, made only technical and refuelling stops, before the journey back toward the Mediterranean, which took it through the Suez Canal, according to the company.

Passenger Jean-Pierre Escarras, from Marseilles, shot a video of their cabin that their daughters shared on social networks, in which he says: “This is our place of confinement. We are lucky to have a window.”

The couple said that after a stop in Sydney, the ship’s activities were “reduced or sometimes cancelled. We haven’t been able to get out on land since March 14 — that’s 34 days.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Canadians wait to disembark Coral Princess cruise ship' COVID-19: Canadians wait to disembark Coral Princess cruise ship
COVID-19: Canadians wait to disembark Coral Princess cruise ship – Apr 5, 2020

The passengers said that ports in Oman, along the Suez Canal, as well as in the Seychelles and Indian Ocean ports, refused to let the ship dock.

Story continues below advertisement

A French woman whose in-laws are aboard the Costa Deliziosa garnered about 100 signatures on an online petition to urge the French government to intervene to get them home.

READ MORE: Officials urge Canadians to ‘avoid all cruise ship travel’ over COVID-19 risk

But French authorities barred the Deliziosa from disembarking more than 1,000 passengers before its final destination in Italy.

The regional administration for Bouches-du-Rhone in southern France cited a nationwide ban on allowing foreign cruise ships to dock, as part of France’s virus-related confinement measures. Italy has also barred foreign cruise ships as it battles the virus outbreak.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Passengers on virus-stricken cruise ships board chartered flights home' Coronavirus outbreak: Passengers on virus-stricken cruise ships board chartered flights home
Coronavirus outbreak: Passengers on virus-stricken cruise ships board chartered flights home – Apr 3, 2020

The French administration has granted exemptions to six other cruise ships in recent weeks to allow French passengers to get off, but refused this time, saying the previous stops overstretched local police and health authorities already mobilized to fight France’s severe virus crisis.

Story continues below advertisement

Last month, two other Costa cruise ships pulled into Italian ports, including one that earlier had aboard passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 before being disembarked in France.

READ MORE: Cancelling or rebooking your vacation? Current policies of major airlines and hotels

It was unclear if or where the passengers who were due to finally step aboard land after weeks of sailing aboard the Deliziosa would be quarantined as a precaution.

Angela Charlton reported from Paris. Jospeh Wilson contributed to this report from Spain.

Sponsored content