Cruises in Corona times: “It’s really only pushing around at the bars”
After a month-long cruise break and with strict hygiene rules, Tui Cruises ventures out to sea again. The concept is well received by the guests. However, experts doubt its sustainability.
“Jostling really only happens at the bars,” report Michael and Vera Machann. On Monday morning they disembarked from a cruise ship in Hamburg – after a three-day cruise in the middle of the corona epidemic, which was subject to strict hygiene regulations. Most of the time it looked as if all the passengers were on shore, so empty it was on the ship, the Machanns report. Overall, the family of three felt less anxious with the little son Hugo than in the supermarket.
The Tui cruise ship “Mein Schiff 2”, which due to the corona had only taken 1,500 instead of 2,900 passengers, was on the North Sea without going ashore and moored in the early morning at the ship terminal in the Steinwerder district of Hamburg.
Constant temperature measurement on board the ship
There were extensive rules on board. For example, every morning between 8.30 a.m. and 11.30 a.m., the guests had to queue in front of a room to measure their fever, says Friederike Grönemeyer, who is responsible for corporate communications at Tui Cruises. “Then you go in, say what room number, then you measure the temperature briefly and then you go out again.” If not all of the guests had arrived by then, there would be an announcement with the kind request to be there.
Even before the passengers boarded, they had to have their body temperature measured and also fill out a health questionnaire. The crew members had to keep a minimum distance of 1.50 meters from each other and the guests or wear face masks. In the buffet restaurants, guests did not have access to the dishes themselves. They were brought to the table by the staff. That is “not so bad anyway” and better than if everyone was rummaging around in the food, says passenger Claudia Willgeroth, who was on board with her friend Dörthe.
Gabriele Strohof and her daughter Julia found the organization of the arrival of the guests at the terminal before the start of the mini cruise in need of improvement. They would have had to wait four hours on the day of departure, at temperatures around 30 degrees. “I saw a lot of older people standing in the blazing sun,” reports Gabriele Strohof and recommends that toilets, vending machines and tents be set up.
Aida postpones cruise comeback
While Tui Cruises is again active in a German port, industry competitor Aida Cruises has postponed the return to the cruise business after the Corona mandatory break. On Sunday, the company canceled the planned mini cruises on the Baltic Sea for the first half of August. Corona infections had previously been found in 11 crew members.
The tourism expert Alexis Papathanassis doubts that the hygiene concept of cruise lines will be sustainable in the long term. “I am skeptical of the extent to which the scenarios are really well thought out. If there were to be a corona outbreak on a ship again – that would be industry suicide,” he said recently to “Spiegel”.
The companies earn their profit not only from the price of the passage, but also from gastronomy, boutiques and other offers on board as well as the arrangements for shore leave. All of this turns out to be several numbers smaller when hardly more than half of the calculated passengers are allowed on board. The costs, on the other hand, are similar to those of a fully manned ship, even if fewer service staff and less food are needed on board.
– A single corona infected person caused a mass outbreak on a cruise ship