Last three cruise ships at sea return home

Last three cruise ships at sea return home

MSC Magnifica, one of the very last cruise ships still at sea, has arrived in the French port of Marseille.

The last date that MSC Magnifica allowed any new embarkation of passengers or crew was on March 10 in Wellington, New Zealand, more than 40 days ago. 

Magnifica left Genoa, Italy, on January 5, when the world was very different: Covid-19 had just broken out in Wuhan, China, but the virus had not even been named.

Disembarkation of the 1,769 guests onboard, of which none are displaying any symptoms of Covid-19 continues under the auspices of Port Health of Marseille and other relevant authorities. All guests and crew during the past 40 days remained healthy and displayed no flu-like sympthoms.

Since Wellington, MSC Magnifica called the Australian ports of Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle for refuelling and provisions, as well as Colombo in Sri Lanka, en route to France.

Pacific Princess arrived at the Port of Los Angeles Monday, leaving just Costa Deliziosa, which will will drop off passengers in Genoa after docking in Barcelona, still at sea.

Many cruise ships have been forced to take circuitous routes back to land, with ports refusing access to even those free of confirmed cases of Covid-19 or guests displaying flu-like symptoms.

In late March, Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford accused countries of turning their backs on thousands of people “left floating at sea”. In a video message, he called for “compassion and grace” after four people died from Covid-19 on the Zaandam.

Donald Trump intervened to allow Holland America Line’s Zaandam and Rotterdam and Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess to dock in the US after Florida governor Ron DeSantis said guests could not be “dumped” in his state, dismissing those on board as mostly “foreigners”.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages had to perform a remarkable mid-ocean transfer between two of its ships, Columbus and Vasco da Gama, after it was denied access into Thailand. Columbus undertook a 7,842 nautical mile voyage back to the UK with 907 guests and 619 crew members on board, arriving on April 13.

Cuba offered a haven to the Braemar, the Fred Olsen ship, after several other Caribbean countries declined to let it dock. Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said it wanted to “reinforce healthcare, solidarity and international cooperation”.

“The worst thing has been being in limbo, not knowing what is going to happen next. We have been sailing around in circles for the last week, really,” guest Clive Whittington told Reuters before disembarkation. “Whether the Cubans took us in to get brownie points or not, we are very grateful.”

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