Passenger Tests Positive for COVID-19 After Disembarking Ferry Cruise

Passenger tests positive for COVID-19 after Norwegian ferry cruise
Color Magic - Photo Håvard Storvestre (Courtesy Color Line)

Published Oct 7, 2020 6:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

In the latest scare, more than 700 cruise passengers aboard a deluxe Norwegian ferry may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. According to the Norwegian health authorities, a passenger tested positive after returning from a two-day cruise prompting alerts to all of the passengers and a contact tracing program.

Color Line, a Norwegian operator of passenger and cargo ferries on the North Sea, confirmed to the Norwegian media outlet Aftenposten that it had been notified that one of its passengers tested positive after the trip last week. According to the company, it is cooperating with the Norwegian health authorities so that an SMS text alert and email could be sent out to everyone aboard the Color Magic

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health reports that the unidentified passenger boarded the Color Magic for a two-day cruise departing Oslo, Norway on September 30. The ship crosses the North Sea to Kiel, Germany, where cargo is offloaded, but since the end of August Norwegian authorities have barred passengers from going ashore in Germany or the ship boarding passengers while in Kiel. The Color Magic returned to Oslo on October 2.

During the cruise, the passenger was reported to not be showing any symptoms of the virus, but began to feel ill shortly after disembarking. The person took a COVID-19 test which was confirmed as positive on October 5. The health authorities were notified as well as the shipping line. Because the person was asymptomatic during the trip, the authorities do not know if other passengers or the crew might have been exposed to the virus. Everyone who was aboard the Color Magic and who might have come in contact with this individual is being advised to monitor their health and notify authorities if they begin to show symptoms.

For Color Line this is not the first scare the ships have had with the virus. The company canceled the September 12 trip aboard the Color Magic after a report that one of its crew members might have been positive for the virus. Further testing, however, said the crew member was not infected, leading the shipping line to say that it had been a false positive report. 

At the end of May, Norway had announced that it would permit the gradual resumption of service for the ferries. Color Line was able to begin accepting passengers to and from Germany in mid-July when the German border was reopened, but at the end of August Norwegian authorities suspended the travel authorization. Since then, the company ferries have only been able to carry Norwegians as round-trip cruise passengers without going ashore. However, they have been permitted to continue to land cargo.

To prepare for the return of passengers, Color Line worked with DNV GL to certify its health and safety programs. Color Line became the first company in Norway to have been verified by DNV GL for its systems related to handling infection control onboard its ships and in the terminals.

Norwegian health authorities will continue to monitor the current situation. At this time, there has been no word of any cancellations of service aboard the Color Line ferries.