Last three cruise ships still sailing finally dock

Last three cruise ships still sailing on Earth finally dock after months at sea – including one in France carrying passengers who last touched dry land six weeks ago in New Zealand

  • Three cruise ships departed on round-the-world voyages in first week of January 
  • All three made port on Monday to allow people off for the first time in weeks 
  • None of them had coronavirus cases on board, meaning until now passengers had been allowed to mingle and use facilities including gyms and pools 
  • Thousands of passengers will now return to countries with lockdowns in place 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

The last three cruise ships still at sea all made port on Monday as the industry shuts down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The MSC Magnifica docked in the south of France in the early hours after calling off its round-the-world voyage six weeks ago in New Zealand, when passengers were last allowed freely off the ship.

Meanwhile the Costa Deliziosa also made port in Barcelona after sailing for 35 continuous days from Perth with no direct contact with the outside world.

Finally, the Pacific Princess was due into port in Los Angeles in the early hours of Monday having sailed from Fremantle, Australia, where it last made port on March 21.

The MSC Magnifica pictured in port in Marseille on Monday morning, six weeks after passengers were last allowed off in New Zealand to avoid bringing coronavirus on board

The Costa Deliziosa pictured in port in Barcelona, its first stop since Perth on March 16. The ship’s last port of call will be Genoa, Italy, where it is due on Wednesday

After today, the Deliziosa will be the only cruise vessel at sea anywhere in the world as it makes a final journey to Genoa, where it will come to rest on Wednesday.

All three vessels were taking part in round-the-world trips that began the first week of January when coronavirus was first emerging in China.

As they set off – two on January 4 and the third on January 5 – the disease wasn’t even known as a coronavirus. It was simply ‘pneumonia of unknown origin’. 

In the time they have been at sea the virus has swept across the globe – infecting some 2.4million people and killing 166,000.

Yet, despite cruise ships being among the early hotbeds of the virus, none of the three ships docking today had a single confirmed infection on board.

That means passengers have been free to mingle, dine together, and use facilities such as cinemas and gyms while the rest of the world went into lockdown.

They now face returning to countries with strict social distancing measures in place, where many of the comforts they have continued to enjoy are banned.

Carlos Paya, a Spanish traveller on board the Deliziosa, described his decision to go on the cruise as ‘a stroke of good luck’. 

168 passengers were allowed off the Deliziosa in Barcelona on Wednesday, their first contact with the outside world for 35 days

Deliziosa passengers – who had previously been allowed full use of the ship due to no coronavirus cases being on board – now return to a country in full lockdown

‘Of course, for those of us who have children in Spain, we would have preferred to return,” Paya said. 

‘Other passengers, on the other hand, given their old age wanted to stay on board knowing that the boat was safe and secure.’

Paya was thought to be among 168 of the boat’s 1,831 passengers and 898 crew who were allowed to disembark in Barcelona on Monday.

The remainder will come ashore in Genoa on Wednesday.

French authorities had denied the ship permission to dock in Marseille, where the MSC Magnifica made port on Monday morning.

That ship disembarked all of its 1,760 passengers, six weeks after Captain Roberto Leotta – from Italy – decided to call off the voyage.

The Magnifica last made a scheduled stop in New Zealand on March 11, before sailing to Tasmania where it was due to dock on March 14.

But seeing the virus spread, Captain Leotta decided to keep people on board the ship and set sail for Sydney, the BBC reported.

The Pacific Princess (pictured in Melbourne on April 3) is also due to arrive in Los Angeles on Monday, after sailing for 30 days from Fremantle, in Australia

It was there that he decided to abandon the voyage and chart a course home.

A few passengers were allowed off the ship in Sydney and at another stop in Melbourne on March 19 on strict conditions.

Another stop in Sri Lanka saw one crew member allowed to leave and a German woman evacuated because of non-coronavirus conditions – who later died.

Otherwise, passengers have not set foot on dry land for 40 days.

Speaking about the incredible voyage, Captain Leotta said: ‘We found ourselves in a situation where Covid-19 has been isolating people, and distancing people.

‘Here was the opposite. We became like a family – our guests and our crew together. The spirit has been beautiful.’

Meanwhile the Pacific Princess was due to dock in Los Angeles around 7.30am local time, a spokesman for the cruise line said.

Since the ships began their voyage, coronavirus has gone from a small batch of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, to a global pandemic that has infected more than 2million

A majority of the ship’s passengers had already disembarked at Fremantle, in Australia, during the ship’s last port call on March 21. 

However, 115 people remained on board due to non-coronavirus health conditions which meant they couldn’t disembark.

They will be allowed off the ship once it makes port.

With the arrival of the three ships on Monday, the cruise industry is now on hiatus until it is deemed safe to restart.

Speaking about when that might be last week, Carnival Cruises CEO Arnold Donald said it is unlikely the whole industry will be allowed to resume at once.

‘It will be to certain destinations, certain locations and certain times,’ he said.

He also admitted that people may be put off cruises for a period of time because of the negative press around the industry generated by coronavirus.

But he added: ‘People are booking for 2021 – we have some even booking for this summer. There is [still] demand.’

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