TUI Cruises has announced that a second cruise ship, Mein Schiff 1, will join Mein Schiff 2 cruising from Germany in late July as the line joins AIDA Cruises in preparing to resume cruises amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The introduction of Mein Schiff 1 effectively doubles TUI’s capacity as it resumes services. She will sail cruises to nowhere (cruises with no port calls) from Kiel, offering three- and four-day short sailings, while Mein Schiff 2 will sail similar itineraries from Hamburg.
“This gives guests the opportunity to enjoy the Mein Schiff experience on board with the premium all-inclusive concept and at the same time treat themselves to a break at sea, of course with an adapted and expanded health and safety concept,” the company said in a release.
“The basis for the resumption of cruise operations is the guiding principles of the responsible authorities, which were developed in coordination with CLIA Germany and the shipping companies as well as in cooperation with experts,” it added.
AIDA Cruises, Germany’s other big cruise line, is also planning to resume services, but one month later in August. AIDAperla will be the first to set sail on August 5th from Hamburg, followed by the AIDAmara from Rostock-Warnemünde on August 12th and the AIDAblu from Kiel on August 16th.
The plans from TUI and AIDA to resume cruises amid the pandemic come after Genting Cruises in Asia became the world’s first big ship cruise line to start up operations again.
Genting has announced plans to start cruising again in late July aboard Explorer Dream with two and three-night “Taiwan Island-Hopping” itineraries, departing from Keelung and calling at Penghu, Matzu and Kinmen islands — just for the domestic Taiwanese market.
The resumption of cruises by AIDA came with a full set of health protocols to protect passengers and crew, which were developed in coordination with the CDC in the United States and health experts in Germany.
The sailings will feature all sea days and operated at reduced capacity.
Each guest will provide health information and risk-increasing factors related to COVID-19 prior to travel and check-in.
Before check-in, the body temperature of every guest is measured without contact. A team of doctors is also available to clarify symptoms or other information, and if necessary, a COVID-19 PCR test can also be carried out.
If a guest lives in an area in Germany with 50 new infections per 100,000 residents in the last 14 days, that guest must present a recent (not older than 48 hours) negative COVID-19 test prior to board.
Check in will be staggered as guests will reserve their time slots for check-in on the day of arrival and check-out on the day of departure.
If a guest is denied boarding, the trip can be rebooked prior to Oct. 31, 2020.
Onboard, guests and crew must keep at least 1.5 meters away from other people.
If minimum distance cannot be maintained, mouth and nose protection is mandatory for guests and crew.
No face mask protection is required in the outer areas of the ship, in restaurants and bars on the square, on fitness equipment and during sports courses.
Guests can use both fabric masks and medical protective masks, and must supply their own masks. Additional masks are available for purchase aboard.
All cabins are cleaned daily according to the dual principle of “Clean and Sanitize.” In addition to the normal cleaning process, surfaces are disinfected and all vacuum cleaners are now equipped with HEPA filters.
For dining, no fask masks are necessary at tables.
There will be no self-service in the buffets.
Buffet restaurants will feature breakfast and lunch a la carte, and a three-course dinner menu.
Restaurant seats for all meals must be reserved no later than three days before the start of the trip.
AIDA did not comment on bar service, but it is believed all bar seats have been removed.
AIDA does not have a traditional show lounge, but instead uses its atrium for most entertainment, giving it an advantage as it enables the artists to keep enough distance from each other and from guests. AIDA, however, is asking guests to wear mouth and nose protection before, during and after the events.
The disco will be closed for the time being, and AIDA will not have pool parties, according to the line.
The company’s spa is open, but the sauna area remains closed. Spa capacity will be significantly limited.
The gym is open, with an increased minimum distance of 2.5 meters between guests, and reduced capacity. AIDA said it has reduced the number of workout machines. Cleaning frequency will be increased.
The pools on board and the water slides are opened under increased security measures. The number of people per pool will be limited.
As well, the slot machines in the casino will operate; the shops will be open with limited capacity.
Each guest will provide health information and risk-increasing factors related to COVID-19 prior to travel and at check-in. At the check-in, the body temperature of every guest is measured without contact.
A team of doctors is also available to clarify symptoms or other information. If required, a COVID-19 PCR test can also be carried out.
Daily health and temperature check for all crew members as well as COVID-19 PCR test on embarkation and at regular intervals while onboard.
AIDA said it has staffed up its doctor and nurse staff onboard.
The ships are equipped with the latest PCR test kits and diagnostic devices for the immediate evaluation of suspected cases.
The company said it will arrange disembarkation, medical care and travel home for the guest as soon as possible if the COVID-19 disease is confirmed.
Running at reduced capacity, AIDA said it has sufficient options for the necessary individual isolation in the hospital or in the cabins provided.