After restarting in June, some Hurtigruten crew test positive for Covid-19

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The Roald Amundsen, the Hurtigruten ship launched last year. The crew on the ship have tested positive for Covid-19.

Hurtigruten, one of the first cruise lines to resume service this summer, has reported a Covid-19 outbreak on one of the cruise ships that has been operating coastal Norway itineraries since June.

The line said that 36 of the 158 crew members on the ship, the Roald Amundsen, have tested positive for Covid-19 and that 120 are confirmed as negative. The ship is currently docked in Tromso, Norway, with no passengers on board.

Hurtigruten said it is in contact with all passengers that were on board the Roald Amundsen’s July 17 and 24 departures and that 209 passengers from the first sailing and 178 from the second will self-quarantine in line with Norwegian health authority regulations.

The Roald Amundsen cancelled its scheduled cruise to Svalbard that was to leave on July 31. The next cruise with the ship is not planned until September.

Of the 36 confirmed cases, 32 are from the Philippines. The rest are Norwegian, French and German nationals.

The line said that four crewmembers were isolated last week because of illness symptoms that were thought to not be related to Covid-19. They were then routinely tested before being admitted to hospital in Tromso on Friday.

Hurtigruten claimed to be the first line to resume sailings this summer when the Norway-based line launched domestic Norwegian coastal itineraries in mid-June and then added one sailing from Hamburg, Germany, all with limited capacity and enhanced hygiene protocols in place. It said it would ramp up operations from four to 16 ships by the end of September because demand has been so strong.

Hurtigruten said that all crewmembers are closely monitored and screened daily and that non-Norwegian crew are quarantined before boarding the ship and non-European crew need to undergo two negative Covid-19 tests before leaving their home country.

Many Governments Failing Cruise Crew Repatriation

Crew Transfer Between Vessels

“The challenges in repatriating seafarers on cruise vessels around the world have highlighted the shortcomings of many governments in this worldwide crisis,” Lena Dyring, director of cruise operations for the Norwegian Seafarers Union, told Cruise Industry News. “These shortcomings have caused a toxic, compounding domino effect for seafarers who were and still are stuck on cruise ships around the world and caused a lot of human suffering.”

Dyring said that first of all she wanted to highlight how the Bahamas has acted.

“They have not allowed repatriation from their territory, thus failing their obligations under the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC). They boast that they have ‘allowed’ the ships to anchor in their waters and have crew members transferring between vessels so they can sail them home. They also boast that storing and provisions have been done in the Bahamas. But to my knowledge, most of these vessels still sail to Miami or Port Everglades for storing and provisions.”

According to Dyring, had the Bahamas allowed charter flights out of their territory from day one, there would not have been so many seafarers stuck at sea and a lot of human suffering and uncertainty could have been avoided. To her knowledge, she said, the Bahamas has even denied medical evacuations from vessels registered there.

There are many governments that have failed both their own citizens and their obligations under the MLC, according to Dyring. She said there is a pattern of “overreactions” caused by what she called fear and not facts.

“I also have to highlight the situation in the Philippines where thousands of seafarers have been stuck either on a ship in Manila Bay or in some kind of quarantine situation in Manila for weeks and sometimes months for no apparent reason.

“The Philippine union AMOSUP has done a great job in the middle of all of this, but it is difficult when you have to work against all of these other forces.”

Some governments have stepped up and taken responsibility. Dyring mentioned that Barbados, for instance, has taken a vastly different approach to the challenges and have invited the cruise lines to operate charter flights out of their country.

Some countries in Europe have also taken their obligations seriously. Dyring said that the UK has stepped up, as well as Germany, Spain and Norway.

Read the full article in the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine Summer 2020 edition, due out at the end of June.

Costa Mediterranea Sails to Get Crew Home; Sets Course for China

Costa Mediterranea  (Photo: JD Schwartz / tributestudios.com)

Costa Crociere is preparing to use the Costa Mediterranea to get crew from the Philippines and Indonesia home, according to a document circulated on board the vessel.

According to Costa’s plan, the 2003-built ship will first sail to La Spezia on April 10.

European crew will be disembarked, as will crew not required for operational reasons that can also get home.

All other crew members, with the exception of the Filipino and Indonesian crew aboard, will be then moved to the Costa Pacifica.

“For these crew members we are restlessly working with Governments and air companies in order to guarantee a safe journey back to home,” the company’s letter said.

Meanwhile, Filipino and Indonesian crew aboard the Pacifica, except for those needed for minimum safety manning, will be transferred to the Costa Mediterranea.

The Mediterranea will then sail to Brindisi and meet the Costa Fortuna, taking on the Filipino and Indonesian crew from the latter ship.

Finally, the Mediterranea will set her course for Shanghai with projected port stops in Indonesia and the Philippines to disembark crew.

Costa said it is working closely with local government and manning agents to get crew home safely.

It is unknown what the company’s plans are for the ship in China, but the Mediterranea, along with the Atlantica, has recently been transferred to Carnival Corporation’s joint venture with China State Shipbuilding.

The Mediterranea has previously been scheduled to leave the fleet in 2021.