Canary Islands Opens Ports to TUI and Hapag for Cruises

Canary Islands permits restart of cruising
An AIDA cruise ship on a prior call to Grand Canary - photo courtesy Canary Islands Government

Published Oct 22, 2020 3:06 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Canary Islands is the newest destination to announce that it is reopening its ports to cruise ships. The government’s decision to reopen its ports is part of the country’s effort to begin to restore the tourism industry.

The Government of the Canary Islands has authorized cruises to begin sailing between the ports as of November 5, provided that the companies committed to a strict sanitary protocol established by the departments of Health, Public Works, Transport and Housing as a precaution for both tourists and residents. Among the conditions that the cruise lines will have to meet is providing insurance in case of an outbreak of COVID-19 among the passengers as well as establishing agreements with local hospitals and hotels on each island in case a quarantine is required.

To date, the Canary Islands have approved two cruise lines, TUI Cruises and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises both from Germany to begin cruising. The government reported that it had begun discussions with the cruise lines last summer about winter season cruises around the islands. A total of five lines reportedly approached the islands about operating cruises this year, including it is believed to include Marella Cruises, TUI’s UK brand, as well as AIDA, which is the Carnival Corporation brand marketed to German-speaking passengers.

The Canary Islands Government says that it will only authorize European companies to resume tourist activities as it believes, “the health protocols established by the EU are among the most demanding in the world.” In support of the Canary Island’s decision, both the UK and Germany confirmed that they have added Grand Canary to the list of approved destinations for their citizens. For UK residents this means they can travel to the island without having a mandatory quarantine when they return home.

In addition to the insurance requirements and establishing plans should a quarantine be required, the Canaries are limiting the ships to 60 to 70 percent of their normal capacity. Passengers must also test negative for coronavirus before arriving in the Canary Islands and complete a health questionnaire about their movements and contacts for the prior two weeks.

TUI was the first cruise line to announce the details of its winter cruise program homeported at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The line will reposition its cruise ship the Mein Schiff 2, which is currently sailing short cruises from Germany, to operate two different 7-day routes around the Canary Islands. They will employ a similar model to their cruises sailing from Greece, with passengers testing for the virus before boarding charter flights from Germany to the Canary Islands. The two different itineraries can be combined for a 14-day cruise and as with the passengers in Greece going ashore in the ports will only be permitted with the company’s arranged shore excursions.
Additional cruise lines as expected to announce details of their programs shortly. The Canary Island approved Hapag to homeport its cruise ship the Europa 2 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife for cruises around the islands.  AIDA, which is believed to another cruise line targeting winter cruises, currently has several cruise ships laid up in the Canary Islands. Marella Cruises had previously expressed interest in resume its Canary Island cruises for UK passengers and has its ship the Marella Explorer scheduled to operate in the islands this winter.

In taking these steps, the Canary Islands joins other destinations including Greece, Italy, Taiwan, and soon Singapore in permitting cruises to resume. China is also expected to permit a limited resumption of cruises while the SeaDream 1, the small yacht cruise ship, is currently on a trans-Atlantic cruise before launching its Caribbean cruises from Barbados.