Ten crew members hired to work on AIDA cruise ships have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the German newspaper NDR. The German office for health and social affairs announced this news today. The newspaper states that “the detection of these infections is the result of the company’s preventive measures to prepare women and men to start work. The crews had been flown in from their home countries in Asia via Rostock-Laage (AIDA’s headquarters) during the week. The company has decided not to allow the two ships to leave for the time being.”
The re-start crews arrived in Germany earier this week from Asia and European countries and took buses from the airport to the Rostock port, where the AIDAblu (above) and the AIDAmar (below) are currently moored. The crew members reportedly tested negative in their home countries before their flights to Germany. Before the crew members were on board any of the AIDA ship, they were reportedly tested again in Rostock. “Ten tests were positive. Nine people are symptom-free, one has mild symptoms. They were placed “isolated” on board one of the ships, according to the protection concept, the health senator said. The crews are to be tested again on Sunday.” AIDA previously planned to resume operations at the beginning of August with short cruises without shore leave on the Baltic Sea.
Earlier this week, we reported that TUI Cruises, which operates the Mein Schiff 1 cruise ship, reportedly cancelled a July 31st cruise because as many as seven crew members tested positive for COVID-19. TUI earlier said that it postponed the cruise because it allegedly were unable to assemble a re-start team in time to be prepared for the first re-start cruise.
If this information is accurate, cancelling the re-start cruise was an inauspicious attempt at a re-start at cruising by the Mein Schiff company. This was supposed to be essentially a test cruise for Royal Caribbean which has a 50:50 joint venture with TUI of Germany which manages the Mein Schiff ships.
A German website, Der Kreuzfahrttester, published an article yesterday titled Blue cruise of the Mein Schiff 1 canceled! What’s the real reason? which addressed three possible explanations for the cancellation of the cruise: (1) Due to worldwide travel restrictions caused by the pandemic, the start team for the Mein Schiff 1 is not yet completely on board; (2) TUI Cruises apparently had problems getting the crew because “nobody wants to work for this company anymore;” and (3) COVID-19 tests for some of the oncoming crew was positive and therefore the Blue Cruise had to be cancelled (citing Cruise Law News). The site said “if this new information is correct, it must be published. There will probably be further cancellations, then for this ship.” It indicated that it asked TUI Cruises on Wednesday for an explanation but had not received a response.
In my view, attempts by the major cruises lines to try to return to cruising this soon will continue to be met with problems like this.
It remains to be seen whether the AIDA cruises in August will continue to go forward. We reached out to Carnival and were directed to AIDA Cruises for a comment but have not yet heard back from its communications department.
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Statement from AIDA Cruises: This morning, we received the following statement from AIDA Cruises which we are posting in its entirety:
“As part of the occupational-medical health examination of the crewmembers having arrived on July 22, 2020, 10 positive cases were detected, none of which are related to the regular on-board operations.
The entire arriving crew was tested in their home countries before their departure to Germany. Another PCR test was carried out directly prior to the boarding. Afterwards, all newly embarked crewmembers went into single isolation on board.
It shows that the strict hygiene protocols AIDA Cruises has developed with the authorities are effective and that the company has taken the right preventive measures. AIDA Cruises will continue closely coordinating all steps with the responsible authorities in Rostock and the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and keeps implementing all increased preventive and control measures to protect against COVID-19.
All affected crewmembers are currently in strict isolation and have been quarantined. In order to verify the results, a second PCR test was carried out immediately. It has now confirmed the initial results. As a precaution, all other crewmembers having recently arrived are also being tested again for COVID-19 and remain in isolation.
The cruise ships AIDAmar and AIDAblu are not under quarantine. As a precaution, however, the crew will not be able to go ashore.
The preparations for the first upcoming cruises are continuing as planned. For the phased-in return to operation AIDA Cruises has developed a comprehensive set of health and hygiene protocols to help facilitate safe and healthy cruise vacation.”
Photo credits: AIDAmar – Sebaso – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; AIDAblu – Martin Falbisoner – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.