Around 60 of the 92 passengers (two-thrids) who sailed on the river cruise ship MS Swiss Crystal from October 10th to 17th have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Swiss newspaper Blick. The majority of the cruise guests were from Switzerland and had sailed on the Swiss Crystal on the Main and Danube river earlier this month. Two-thirds of the guests are now reportedly “in isolation or quarantine.” There is no information available whether the crew members went into islation or whether the next cruise was affected.
The Swiss Crystal is managed by Scylla AG.
Guests who were quoted in the newspaper article say that they were required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken every day. However, they took their masks off in order to particpate in singing and yodeling during the “music cruise” on the river.
Last week, German newspapers reported that at least thirteen (13) people were infected on another river cruise ship, MS Vista Serenity, on the Moselle River in Germany.
This is the third COVID-19 outbreak on a river cruise ship in Europe in the last seven weeks. In early September, eight guests and crew members on a CroisiEurope river cruise ship on the Douro River in Portugal tested positive for COVID-19. Two French passengers and six crew members on the Vasco da Gama river cruise ship tested positive for the virus.
Most travel writers and cruise bloggers tout European cruise ships as proof that cruising can be conducted in a safe manner despite the coronavirus pandemic. But there have been around 165 guests and crew members infected with COVID-19 so far on cruises in Europe, including 74 people infected on Hurtigruten cruise ships: MS Roald Amundsen (71) and MS Finnmarken (3 with one death), 8 people on the Costa Diadema, 8 on the Vasco da Gama river cruise ship, one on the Silversea Silver Spirit, 13 on the Vista Serenity river ship, and now 60 (so far) on the Swiss Crystal.
It does not appear that the health protocols for this ship included mandatory testing before embarkation, although such testing does not always mean that the person is not a carrier of the virus.
This is a particularly dangerous time to think about taking a leisure cruise. The coronavirus is surging in Europe and in the U.S. There have been over 2,800,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 40,000 deaths in the world reported in the last week alone.
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Update October 28, 2020: Today, Chancellor Angela Merkel says German officials have agreed to implement a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars, theaters and clubs in hopes of containing coronavirus outbreaks that have led to a rapid rise in cases this month in Germany and throughout Europe.
Photo credit: Middle – ZVG via Blick.