Three Costa Cruise seafarers tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Italian press today. In the last two weeks, over four dozen other crew members employed by AIDA, TUI and Hurtigruten have tested positive.

Costa Favolosa and Costa Deliziosa Crew Members Test Positive

Two of the three Filipino Costa crew members who tested positive were from the Costa Favolosa (above). The Italian newspaper reports that the rest of the crew are now under quarantine. The other Costa crew member who tested positive was on the Costa Deliziosa (right). He also recently arrived from the Philippines and was already under mandatory isolation when he joined the ship.

The regional councilor for Health of Lazio, Alessio D’Amato, was quoted in an Italian newspaper saying: “At the Port of Civitavecchia two cruise ships were placed in isolation which were rearming the crews in view of the reopening of the cruises.”

All threee crew members reportedly were transferred to Spallanzani Hospital in Rome.

Both ships are in Civitavecchia, Italy. Until recently, the crew could go ashore two hours every day according to the newspaper.  Now Costa is prohibiting the employees from leaving the ships until all staff are checked.

Costa acknowledged its “constant application of health protocols” which discovered the “3 positive swab cases.

Thirty-Six Crew Members and One Guest (So Far) Test Positive on the Hurtigruten Expedition Cruise Ship MS Roald Amundsen

This news follows reports from Norway this weekend that crew members on the Hurtigruten expedition cruise ship, the MS Roald Amundsen (left), tested positive for COVID-19. We reported that on Friday the ship arrived in Tromsø, Norway. Hurtigruten permitted as many as 177 of its guests to leave the ship and mingle ashore without telling anyone that several crew members (initially reported as two to four employees) tested positive.

Subsequent reports indicated that Hurtigruten knew that a guest had also tested positive on Wednesday yet the company did not inform the other passengers and permitted them to go ashore on Friday. Subsequent testing of the crew of around 160 employees showed that several dozens other crew member tested positive.

At last count, a total of 36 crew members tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, 60 guests were quarantined and tested and the remaining number of guests (over 160) are in the process of being contacted, tested and traced. Guests from the prior cruise (over 200) are also reportedly being contacted and tested. It remains to be seen how many other guests may have been infected on this ship.

Today, Reuters reports that “so far, four of the combined 387 passengers travelling on the ship on two separate cruises since July 17 have been found to carry the virus, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) and the Tromsoe municipality said.” It is less than clear whether the total of four guests with COVID-19 includes the passenger who tested positive last Wednesday. “We expect that more infections will be found in connection to this outbreak,” said Line Vold, a senior FHI executive, to Reuters.

AIDA Cruises and TUI Group’s Mein Schiff Employees Test Positive

Meanwhile, ten crew members employed by AIDA Cruises which is preparing to resume cruising recently tested positive. The TUI Group, which manages operations of the Mein Schiff fleet of cruise ships, admitted that at least five crew members tested positive for COVID-19 after cancelling a cruise on the Mein Schiff 1 (right).  We initially reported this news on July 21st but TUI did not respond to requests for information until over a week later.

The Total So Far: 54 Crew Members and At Least 4 Guests Test Positive

Between TUI, AIDA, Hurtigruten, and now Costa, at least fifty-four (54) crew members employed by European cruise lines which have started sailing, or are preparing to shortly re-start cruise operations, have tested positive for COVID-19. This number will likely increase once the test results of the hundreds of passengers on the Hurtigruten ship become public.

These companies are following the so-called “European Union” (EU) protocols, which call for social distancing, the wearing of masks, daily temperature tests, and reduced occupancy of the ships, among other measures. But the EU protocols, which were largely drafted by members of the “Healthy Sail” panel selected and paid for by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), do not require COVID-19 testing of cruise passengers.

The Miami-based cruise lines like Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean and NCL are testing how the European companies deal with the coronavirus pandemic before they try and resume cruising.  Carnival Coporation owns the ADIA and Costa brands; Royal Caribbean has a 50/50 ownership with the TUI Group in the Mein Schiff fleet. So far, the re-start of cruise operations in Europe has been an inauspicious although entirely predictable result of cruising during a pendemic with no vaccine. These developments paint a bleak future for resuming cruises in the United States where cases of COVID-19 are much higher than in Europe.

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Photo credits: Costa Favolosa – Andrsvoss – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia; Costa Deliziosoa – Geiranger, Norway  Jorge Andrade from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – CC BY 2.0, commons / wikimedia; MS Roald Amundsen – Hurtigruten; Mein Schiff 1 – Dickelbers – SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia.