German Cruise Lines Resume Pause due to Travel Restrictions
Germany’s renewed restrictions due to the current resurgence of the coronavirus are forcing the cruise lines to once again pause operations for cruises departing from German ports. Both TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff cruises, which is a joint venture with the Royal Caribbean Group, and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises are suspending cruises from Germany effective immediately.
The cruise lines had been operating since the summer on short cruises. TUI had become the first company to restore a large cruise ship to operation, but due to the restrictions was limited to only cruising in the North Sea. The line had hoped to include Scandinavian ports on the cruises, but instead was cruising areas such as the Swedish archipelago and turning the ship in the harbors such as near Turku, Finland.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises was operating two smaller ships in short cruises. The Europa, which has a maximum passenger capacity of under 500 people, and the Hanseatic Inspiration, which accommodates a maximum of 230 passengers, were making port calls in Gothenburg, Sweden on their cruises. Gothenburg port officials reported that the ships had been arriving with approximately 100 to 150 passengers so that they stayed within the COVID-19 restrictions.
“We were informed today by the responsible state authorities of Schleswig-Holstein at short notice that - contrary to the previous approval - we are not allowed to carry out cruises from and to Kiel starting tomorrow, Thursday, November 5th, and until further notice,” a TUI Cruises spokesperson wrote to the Maritime Executive today. TUI noted that since its cruises were international travel it believed they did not fall under the domestic travel restrictions.
“Our first inquiry has shown that other German ports will not allow cruises either. Against this background, we have to cancel all of the "Blue Cruises" on Mein Schiff 1 planned for this year,” TUI concluded. The Mein Schiff 1 is at sea today due to return to Keil, Germany in the morning to disembark passengers. TUI had commenced its cruises with her sister ship Mein Schiff 2 sailing on July 24. TUI noted that since July over 40,000 passengers have sailed on its cruises with no outbreak of the virus.
Hapag’s cruise ship the Europa returned to port yesterday from its cruise and was shifted to a lay-up berth. The Hanseatic Inspiration had not sailed on a cruise since mid-October.
While both lines were forced by local officials to pause their cruises from Germany, they are continuing with the international cruises. TUI is operating its ship the Mein Schiff 6 with fly-cruise programs from Germany to Greece. They plan to continue these trips and later in the month plan to start a similar fly-cruise program around the Canary Islands. While not announced, they are also reflecting cruises from Dubai starting at the end of 2020.
The Mein Schiff 2 is currently sailing to Las Palmas where she is currently scheduled to arrive on November 5 to begin preparations for the cruises. Similarly, while Hapag was laying up the Europa, its sister ship the Europa 2 departed Bremerhaven on November 3 bound for Tenerife where she is due to arrive on November 10. Hapag like TUI was approved by the authorities in the Canary Islands to begin cruises around the islands.
Last week, AIDA Cruises also announced that due to the German government restrictions it would pause operations in November. AIDA is hoping to be able to resume its cruises in December and while not one of the cruise lines initially approved to sail in the Canary Islands has also repositioned a ship to possibly start cruising around the islands.