Mediterranean cruise ends early following worsening epidemic in France

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Costa Cruises announced the premature end of a charter cruise for French travelers on board Tiara, a decision which, according to her, is a response to the deterioration of the public health situation in France.

Costa Diadema was among the first Carnival Corporation ships to return to service. (Photos courtesy of Costa Cruises)

During the ship’s previous navigation, also a charter promoted by a French tour operator, all passengers tested negative during a pre-boarding sample test. Subsequent tests as the ship sailed back to Italy for a stopover at the port of Palermo revealed positive results for seven passengers – all asymptomatic.

As a result of this event, the crew had to be tested again. When all received negative results, the second charter cruise was cleared to depart on October 12.

Since then, however, the situation has worsened on the ground in France, with more than 30,000 new cases reported just yesterday.

This week, French President Emmanuel Macron imposed a nighttime curfew in major cities across the country. As a result, Costa said he made the difficult decision to end shipping early.

READ: Carnival Corp’s second ship resumes Mediterranean crossings

In a statement, Costa said that “given the evolution of the epidemiological situation in France”, he “has responsibly decided to anticipate the end of this second cruise, in order to allow a safe return to the French passengers and ensure the health of our crews and the communities we visit.

This ship is expected to arrive in Genoa today, and Costa says he will support all guests for a safe return home.

Tiara has the capacity under normal circumstances to carry more than 3,700 passengers and 1,250 crew.

Costa Diadema open bridge

(Photo courtesy of Costa Cruises)

After being disarmed since March, Tiara resumed navigation on September 19th. Based in Genoa, the ship offers cruises in the western Mediterranean with stops in Civitavecchia / Rome, Naples, Palermo, Cagliari and La Spezia.

Like other cruise lines, Costa has worked hard to develop and implement strict protocols to protect the health of passengers and crew. Executives have acknowledged that cases of illness will inevitably occur, but argue that their pre-departure testing and on-board health initiatives will allow them to cope with isolated situations.

At Costa, passengers check-in online prior to arrival, certifying that they have no flu-like symptoms. Each passenger is assigned a specific boarding time and must complete a sample test, which must be negative to board.

READ: Cruising in 2020, what cruisers need to know

The cabins are cleaned more frequently and in depth; masks are provided and are mandatory in all group spaces unless social distancing is possible. A refurbished air conditioning system is in place so the air does not recirculate, and the elevators only allow up to four passengers at a time. Onboard health services are provided free of charge to anyone who develops symptoms and requires additional testing.

At this point, Costa has not announced the status of future onboard cruises. Tiara.

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