The plans for a limited resumption of cruises by German cruise lines TUI and AIDA looked to be in danger when Germany on Wednesday announced a new emergency lockdown for the month of November to combat coronavirus.
The two cruise lines have taken different approaches to the new restrictions, however, with TUI insisting that its resumption of cruises with three of its ships will go ahead, while AIDA Cruises has announced it is temporarily pausing its cruises for November.
AIDA Cruises was more vulnerable to the lockdown in Germany, as it comes with renewed travel restrictions and AIDA was offering fly-cruise packages to German-speaking guests on itineraries departing Italy.
TUI, meanwhile, has three ships sailing from Germany, two on roundtrip cruises to nowhere (itineraries without any port calls), while a third is cruising from Greece.
“The measures announced by the federal and state governments will not bring our ships to a standstill again,” TUI said in a statement.
“Because staying onboard our ships does not count as domestic tourism, the arrival and departure in the respective departure port is still permitted as a transit. With us onboard you can continue to feel as safe as at home.”
TUI added that it has so far carried 30,000 guests since July without any COVID-19 incidents, which it said is “proof that safe and healthy travel onboard the Mein Schiff fleet is possible even in times of coronavirus.”
AIDA Cruises in a statement said that it fully supports the German government’s measures to counter the renewed spread of coronavirus, but said the measures would make its cruise program from Italy logistically unfeasible for German passengers.
“AIDA Cruises recognizes its decision is disappointing to its guests and appreciates guests understanding the importance of making health and safety the most important priority,” the company said.
Germany’s lockdown will close restaurants, gyms and theaters, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel. Private gatherings will be limited to 10 people from no more than two households, and the public are requested not to travel for private, non-essential reasons.
AIDA Cruises and TUI Cruises implemented comprehensive protocols for health and safety to prevent COVID-19 being brought aboard ship, and prevent it being spread if it was accidentally brought aboard.
This included universal testing of passengers and crew prior to boarding, social distancing on-board, enhanced sanitation and heavily regulated shore excursions, among other measures.
The new protocols were developed in coordination with national and international authorities and medical experts.