Cruise lines offer ships as floating hospitals

Carnival Corporation are among the cruise operators to offer their ships to governments for use during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, Carnival said that its cruise line brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia, will be made available to “communities for use as temporary hospitals to help address the escalating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on healthcare systems around the world”.

On Twitter, Tony Roberts, vice president UK & Europe, Princess Cruises, wrote: “With the continued spread of Covid-19 expected to exert added pressure on healthcare facilities, Princess Cruises (and other Carnival brands) are calling on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise ships as temporary healthcare facilities.”

A spokesperson for Saga Cruises said: “Our cruise ships are currently in Tilbury Docks as we have temporarily suspended cruise operations. In these unprecedented times it is important that we all pull together and provide any support that we can – as individuals and as companies.

“We would be very happy to have a conversation with the government about the use of our ships if it would help expand the capabilities of our amazing NHS. There are, however, no current plans to use our ships in this way.”

Mike Hall, Cruise & Maritime Voyages marketing director, said: “CMV is always prepared to offer assistance based on humanitarian needs. Currently, CMV ships Magellan and Astoria are moored in Tilbury. Magellan has 726 cabins and Astoria 277 cabins.” 

Labour councillor Steve Liddiard, who represents the Tilbury St Chads ward, told the BBC: “I understand this has been happening in a number of countries and if things get that serious – and we hope it won’t – then it sounds like a wonderful opportunity.

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“Specific facilities would be needed such as piped in oxygen and I don’t know how practical that is on a cruise ship. Hopefully the costs of providing the ships could be met by the NHS, but let’s hope that it doesn’t get to that.”

In Italy, MSC Cruises has offered its ships as floating hospitals. Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), which is part of MSC Group, has converted its ferry Splendid into a floating hospital to assist patients with Covid-19 and those convalescing in Italy’s hard-hit Liguria region.

GNV started working on the project together with classification society RINA in early March, in coordination with Italy’s Liguria Health System and Civil Protection. The vessel can be quickly adapted to meet future needs of the region as the Covid-19 emergency evolves. Stationed at Ponte Colombo in Genoa’s Ferry Terminal, Splendid currently offers 25 beds in single cabins, although it is possible to equip additional cabins up to a total of 400 beds. The floating hospital also features a heliport and dedicated areas for healthcare personnel and crew. 

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