A dozen crew members on Mein Schiff 6, the first cruise ship to dock in Greece after the coronavirus lockdown, have tested positive for COVID19, according to the Guardian newspaper.
The cruise ship reportedly is moored off the Aegean island of Milos with 922 passengers onboard, according to the Greek coastguard. German media report that the cruise ship left the Cretan port city of Heraklion yesterday evening. After the test results became known, the captain interrupted the voyage and waited for further instructions off of Milos. The ship is now supposed to go to the port of Piraeus.
This is an inauspicious attempt at a re-start at cruising by the Mien Schiff company. This was supposed to be essentially one of the test cruises for Royal Caribbean which has a 50:50 joint venture with TUI of Germany which manages the Mein Schiff ships.
The positive results surfaced after tests on 150 of the 666-member crew, a coastguard spokeswoman told the Guardian. “They have been isolated onboard, and we are awaiting instructions from the public health agency on where the ship is to sail.”
The ship had sailed from the Cretan port of Iraklio on Sunday evening and was heading to Piraeus near Athens. The passengers had a clean bill of health before the voyage, the spokeswoman said.
The Mein Schiff 6 was the first cruise ship to return to Greek waters after cruising was suspended in March. A German newspaper reports that “none of the twelve crew members had symptoms. Those affected are now being tested again on board. The first results are negative.”
TUI touted that the Mein Schiff cruise ships have the “highest hygiene and safety measures” as well as a “newly formed position” of an infection manager” on each ship.
On July 21st we reported that the the July 31 cruise of the Mein Schiff 1 cruise was cancelled after five crew members tested positive for COVID-19.
Yesterday, we reported that a Costa Diadema crew member tested positive for Covid-19. This development comes at a time when the U.S. based cruise industry is trying to convince the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it is safe to resume cruising from U.S. ports. In my estimation, it is likely that the CDC will extend the “no-sail” order which is currently set to expire on Wednesday, September 30, 2020.
September 28, 2020 Update: According to the Points Guy: “The initial tests that had come back positive were done by an external laboratory. So far, six of the onboard rapid tests have come back … negative, TUI Cruises said in the statement. The line said it would take further swabs from the crew members and send them to an external laboratory for yet another round of testing . . . TUI Cruises downplayed the situation onboard, saying the isolation of the crew who tested positive was ‘a pure precautionary measure’ and the retesting was being done ‘to rule out the unlikely case of infection.'”
September 29, 2020 Update: TUI Cruise Ship Crew Tests Negative for COVID-19 in Repeat Test via Marine Link. The dozens of false positives tests bring uncertainty to the prospects of resuming cruises again, It would appear that there is a even chance of false negative results as well.