AIDA Joins Other German Cruise Lines Resuming Sailing

AIDA and German cruise lines moved forward with cruise resumption
AIDAperla is due to start sailing in December - photo courtesy of AIDA Cruises

Published Nov 25, 2020 3:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

AIDA, Carnival Corporation’s brand marketed to German-speaking consumers, announced plans to resume cruise operations in December joining other cruise lines marketed to the German market which are also moving forward with their cruises. The plans are in part based on the German government’s pledge to reduce restrictions in December.

Saying that the infection rates in the Canary Islands have been stable at a very low level for a long time and that the Spanish government has adopted clear regulations for safe travel, AIDA announced that it will resume operations with two ships cruising around the Canary Islands. AIDA had previously attempted to restart operations in the summer with short sea cruises from Germany and did start cruising in the Mediterranean in October with one ship, the AIDAblu. The German government’s renewed travel restrictions however prompted the line to again pause operation for November.

Under the new plan, the AIDAperla will start one-week cruises from Gran Canaria on December 5 followed by the AIDAmar on December 20. Both ships will visit La Palma, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote on the cruises, while plans for a call at Madeira was canceled due to restrictions that require the cruise to remain in the Canary Islands. Also, travel restrictions and a lack of flights caused the cancelation of boarding in Tenerife with all passengers required to travel through Gran Canaria.

While AIDA is confident that they will be able to operate the Canary Island cruises following the prescribed health protocols, the line noted that due to the current infection situation in the United Arab Emirates, France, and Italy, they had delayed other cruises till the end of January 2021.

Two other cruise lines marketed in Germany, TUI’s Mein Schiff and Hapag Lloyd Cruises, are also moving forward with their plans for Canary Island cruises as well as announcing other cruise programs. TUI and Hapag, both of which are part of a joint venture with the Royal Caribbean Group, had previously announced that they had been approved for Canary Island cruises. TUI’s Mein Schiff 2 will begin cruises from Gran Canaria on December 4. Hapag’s Europa 2 will sail from Lanzarote starting on December 23.

Based on the German government’s promise to remove the current restrictions before the Christmas holiday, Hapag also plans to launch Scandinavian and Arctic cruises aboard its exploration cruise ship the Hanseatic Inspiration on December 20. These cruises will sail roundtrip from Hamburg to Norway and Sweden.

TUI Cruises has also announced the schedule for the longest cruise since the resumption of service. The line’s Mein Schiff 1 is scheduled to sail December 10 from Hamburg on a 35-day cruise to the Caribbean. While capacity on the cruise was limited to 60 percent, the line noted that if it did not receive a minimum of 1,000 bookings by late November, this cruise might be withdrawn.

All of this comes as both the U.S. and British governments repeated earlier cautions about cruise travel. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after announcing the steps required to resume cruise operations has now elevated its assessment of the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships to its highest category. Over the weekend, it cautioned potential passengers to avoid cruising. Similarly, while saying it also supported a phased resumption of cruising, the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said with the U.K. still confronting a second wave of the virus, “now is not the right time,” for people to resume cruising.

The cruise industry, however, highlights the success that the majority of the cruise lines that resumed operation have had in managing the virus. Among the cruises that have operated aboard large ships are Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises which both resumed cruises in the Mediterranean. Also, Genting’s Dream Cruises resumed cruises from Taiwan and recently Singapore. Several small ship cruise lines also resumed sailing, but Hurtigruten in Norway, UnCruises in Alaska, and recently Sea Dream Yacht Club in the Caribbean all suspended cruising after COVID-19 incidents.