Jump to content

Light at the end of the tunnel - TUI starts initial cruise in Germany


Recommended Posts

2 hours ago, podgeandrodge said:

The first major cruise ship to sail in months departed this weekend, and passengers on board have provided the world with a glimpse into what it was like.


“Good morning from the Mein Schiff 2,” reads the caption on this Instagram pic from @cheesecakecruises. “What a wonderful blue sky over the North Sea!”

What We’ve Learned So Far
On Friday, the Mein Schiff 2 departed from Hamburg for a three-night sailing. Several passengers on board posted on various social media platforms about how moving the experience was.


Popular German cruise blogger Pam was one of those on board for the sailing, and posted to her Instagram story videos of the sailaway, dubbing it perhaps unexpectedly emotional.


The journey itself is a three-day sailing to Norway, with no ports of call.

So what do we know about the health-and-safety protocols which were put in place? (And which might serve as an early glimpse into what cruising will look like when ships begin sailing out of U.S. ports again.)

Right off the bat, Mein Schiff 2 is sailing at a reduced capacity of about 60 percent.

Already, this is something we know is likely to happen on U.S. ships, given that the top executives from lines such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival Cruise Lines have all repeatedly said that this is their intention.


In what the caption describes as a “goosebumps moment,” three of the ships in the TUI Cruises fleet crossed paths during the sailing of Mein Schiff 2. 

Sister ship Mein Schiff saw her return to sailing postponed due in part to staffing issues, and several aboard Mein Schiff 2 have noted that there are a few issues in that regard. One noted on Twitter a “longer than one might expect” wait for service in the dining room, but added that it wasn’t “a big deal.”

Speaking of dining, the ship has largely moved to a contactless ordering system. Rather than a traditional menu, guests order via QR-code on their smartphones.

After scanning the appropriate code, the menu is presented on a guest’s phone, making it easy for them to peruse without ever needing to touch an actual menu. (Those without smartphones — and apparently, such people do still exist! — are provided with a more traditional menu by the waitstaff.)


Much talk has centered in recent months around buffets, and while the buffet is open on the Mein Schiff 2, there is no self-service.


As was seen on several ships out of U.S. ports in the final weeks of cruising, staff members are serving guests. While a few people have said it slows things down a bit, most seem happy with the process.

Each morning, every passenger must have their temperature checked via a thermal scan. Stations are located around the ship at which this can be handled quickly. (The device looks much like a smartphone on a stand, so that the temperature-taking process looks almost like taking a selfie.)

 

Without a doubt, the biggest question cruisers have been asking is whether or not they will have to wear a mask in public spaces when cruising returns. If the Mein Schiff 2 is an example, the answer is yes and no.

While all crew members wear masks, guests are asked to wear them in a situation where they can not maintain social distancing.

 

Instagrammer @kreuzfahrtulauber.de wrote, “In the bars, restaurants and other public areas, the chairs and tables have been optimally distanced and in places where this was not possible, certain places have been blocked off by signs. So I’ve never had the feeling that other guests are getting too close somewhere on board.”

They added, “If it is not possible, such as in the [cabin hallways], the guests wear [masks] in a very disciplined manner.”

One area which has received little attention in discussions about the resumption of cruising is elevators.

On Mein Schiff 2, only four guests are allowed in an elevator at any one time. There are distinct markings on the floor of each elevator car dividing it into four squares, and passengers are asked to remain in their square during the duration of the ride.


Tables have been moved farther apart and social distancing is being maintained wherever possible, according to this Instagrammer. 

Because the ship is sailing at reduced capacity, this allows them to use the staterooms on a rotational basis. In other words, staterooms that house guests on one sailing will not be used on the next.

This allows time for additional deep cleaning between occupancies.

Currently, the ship is also only booking staterooms (or suites) with balconies so that all passengers have access to fresh air.

Various ship services are largely open and available, but often with limited capacity.

For example, the gym is only allowing 20 people in at a time and it’s on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Only 10 children are allowed in the childcare program at any given time, and the various toys and equipment are used every other day, again allowing for thorough cleaning.


Although the first day’s weather was a bit cloudy, things cleared up by day 2. “The guests on board are very well distributed,” says this Instagram caption, in part, “which is extremely pleasant and you could get used to it easily!” 

Pam, the German blogger mentioned above, reported on Instagram that massages are available in the spa. While the masseuse wears a mask the entire time, guests can take theirs off while lying face down, but must wear it when lying on their backs.


Other ships will be sailing out of German in the very near future. Carnival Corporation’s Aida brand has three vessels — Aidaperla, Aidamar and Aidablu — expecting to welcome passengers during August.

 

 

From:  https://cruiseradio.net/with-cruising-back-what-we-know-about-masks-capacity-more/

Thank you for posting this. It's very encouraging to have actual feedback from passengers who've recently sailed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for posting this article @podgeandrodge, much appreciated.

 

You might also be interested in this live report which is posted on the celebrity forum. Germancruiser is doing a great job with his live report and is now taking questions too: 

 

This is so exciting!  I still feel like we are many months away here in the USA, but it does provide light in the tunnel!! Hope is a beautiful thing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/26/2020 at 7:32 PM, BirdTravels said:

The US and big cruise lines should take note on how to operate with manageable risk. Note, I did not say "risk free" or "no risk" since there will be COVID on cruises and it is a matter of how your minimize the risk of spread and react when it happens. 

Good point

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, travelhound said:

Good point

Exactly. The media and Ignorant CDC will not sadly understand this concept. If you can effectively manage the risk and contain and cage the virus on board then theres no added risk than being home going to the store. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/26/2020 at 8:32 PM, BirdTravels said:

The US and big cruise lines should take note on how to operate with manageable risk. Note, I did not say "risk free" or "no risk" since there will be COVID on cruises and it is a matter of how your minimize the risk of spread and react when it happens. 

I agree, but what is the plan when COVID is found onboard? Stop the cruise? Return to home port? Return to nearest port? Then what? Debark guests? Where? At whose cost? Then what? Quarantine everyone? Quarantine infected? If so, where,? For how long? At whose cost? What about the next scheduled cruise? Cancel it? Sanitize? Refunds? All needs addressed prior to startup, which is why I think passengers and crew will ultimately need to prove vaccination prior to boarding a cruise from US. Local domestic and foreign governments don't want the responsibility of dealing with the possible influx of infected passengers. Until these get resolved in a meaningful way, the no sail order remains in place and will be extended, if necessary.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, BoundForSea said:

Exactly. The media and Ignorant CDC will not sadly understand this concept. If you can effectively manage the risk and contain and cage the virus on board then theres no added risk than being home going to the store. 

Of course then best tool for managing risk is to limit your patient population to a group that has a low incidence of infection.  In the case of Germany 1 in 10,000 in the case of Norway 4 in 10,000.  So you should be able to due quite a few cruises before getting an infected passenger.  Of course that did not work out as well as the number implied that it should with Hurtigruten.

 

In the US  with its 320 to 640 cases per 10,000 not so much (this assumes that the total active case count is under reported by a factor of 5-10 as has been estimated in a number of studies). The odds here are on a 1000 passengers on a ship and with the PCR test false negative rate that exists you would get multiple cases per ship even if everyone was tested before boarding.

Edited by npcl
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, BoundForSea said:

Exactly. The media and Ignorant CDC will not sadly understand this concept. If you can effectively manage the risk and contain and cage the virus on board then theres no added risk than being home going to the store. 

What makes you think the CDC is ignorant? Just your opinion or do you have facts to back it up.  Just because one doesn't agree with how they are proceeding doesn't make them ignorant.

 

They have a JOB to do , albeit not a popular one with cruisers, but they are assigned the job of public health and seeing it through as best as they see fit. If it doesn't meet the publics agenda so be it.

 

We have a right to change things by running for  office/boards and trying to make things different.

 

 

Edited by beerman2
Link to post
Share on other sites

So, today AIDA announced that all planned cruises to nowhere til mid-August (three with AIDAperla, one with AIDAmar) had to be cancelled as the Italian authorities didn't give their go for the hygienic concept in time. It was also said that this delay is the reason why Costa and MSC Cruises haven't yet announced their new one-week itineraries planned for the end of August.

 

All cruises beginning Aug 16 and further ahead are scheduled to take place. Although I highly doubt that this is 100 percent sure considering the reaction of these authorities to a concept that is actually even more strict than the one by TUI Cruises.

Edited by Mimimatz
Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, luv2kroooz said:

I agree, but what is the plan when COVID is found onboard? Stop the cruise? Return to home port? Return to nearest port? Then what? Debark guests? Where? At whose cost? Then what? Quarantine everyone? Quarantine infected? If so, where,? For how long? At whose cost? What about the next scheduled cruise? Cancel it? Sanitize? Refunds? All needs addressed prior to startup, which is why I think passengers and crew will ultimately need to prove vaccination prior to boarding a cruise from US. Local domestic and foreign governments don't want the responsibility of dealing with the possible influx of infected passengers. Until these get resolved in a meaningful way, the no sail order remains in place and will be extended, if necessary.

 

 

All great points!

You can refund the cruise but what about airfare?  I just found out insurance would not cover that scenario.

Steve

Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a European river cruise that resumed about a month ago.  I think they sailed on 4 day trips. They showed what it was like on board.  Passengers were only allowed to take off masks to eat, drink, and on the sundeck if they were away from other passengers.  The buffet had plastic screens by the tables and passengers were served (not self service).   Entertainment had passengers sitting several seats apart.  No gambling and these ships have no spas.  I was encouraged yet disappointed at the same time (if that makes sense).  It was nice to see some sort of cruise resume but can someone enjoy cruising like this?  The big ships are built for crowded spas, gyms, entertainment venues, restaurant venues and the centerpiece of NCL, the casino.  I just don't see how they could resume with any kind of profit in that environment.  How could you limit 50 people to the sundeck?  I suppose staying in your cabin would have some appeal.

Lets hope for a vaccine in 2021!!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Uggh... in addition to the Hurtigruten cruise that currently reports 36 crew and 4 passengers have tested positive for Covid, today Paul Gauguin announced it's first Covid case. Currently all crew and passengers are being tested. Cruise is cancelled.

https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/23323-paul-gauguin-has-a-covid-19-case.html

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-norway-cruiseship/at-least-40-infected-with-covid-19-on-norway-cruises-amid-scramble-to-trace-passengers-idUSKBN24Y0LO

 

 

I'm starting to feel the light at the end of the tunnel slowly being sniffed out. 😞

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/27/2020 at 3:36 AM, steamboats said:

 

Even when considering "next week" with your time table... the cruise starting Aug 5th is on AIDAperla which is not affected at all. Affected are AIDAmar and AIDAblu which do not start until Aug 12th and 16th.

 

steamboats

 

Unfortunately, several August cruises on both AIDAPerla and AIDAmar are officially cancelled.

"AIDA Cruises won't be sailing in early August as Carnival Corporation's German brand announced it had cancelled departures on the AIDAperla on August 5, August 8 and 12, as well as the August 12 sailing aboard the AIDAmar. "

https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/23324-aida-scraps-first-cruises-in-august.html

 

Edited by BermudaBound2014
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, BermudaBound2014 said:

 

Unfortunately, several August cruises on both AIDAPerla and AIDAmar are officially cancelled.

"AIDA Cruises won't be sailing in early August as Carnival Corporation's German brand announced it had cancelled departures on the AIDAperla on August 5, August 8 and 12, as well as the August 12 sailing aboard the AIDAmar. "

https://www.cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/23324-aida-scraps-first-cruises-in-august.html

 

 

Yes, but not because of any positive tests amongst the crew but because AIDA is Italian flagged and they need a permission by the Italian authorities and that did not happen so far.

 

steamboats

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was on the very first river cruise in Covid times at the end of June, 7 days from Engelhartszell in Austria to Vienna, Esztergom, Budapest, Bratislava, Melk and back. It was aboard the A-Rosa Mia, a ship mainly based towards the German-speaking countries.

 

Yes, I had to wear a mask when I walked from my cabin to the exit or the restaurant, but that didn't cause any uncomfortable feeling imo. As soon as I reached the outside, the open deck or my seat in the restaurant/lounge I took off the mask and it felt like being on a normal cruise.

 

We could explore the destinations on our own (I did), docked at every planned stop and I had a great time aboard.

Edited by Mimimatz
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Mimimatz said:

It was aboard the A-Rosa Mia

 

2 hours ago, Mimimatz said:

As soon as I reached the outside, the open deck or my seat in the restaurant/lounge I took off the mask and it felt like being on a normal cruise

This ship holds 250 passengers. So, maybe it felt like being on a normal "river" cruise. But even in pre-covid times, I don't think a normal river cruise that holds 300 people would feel anything like a normal ocean going cruise which can hold 2,000 and even more. They are different experiences. I feel like you are comparing apples to oranges, but I am very happy you had a good river cruise.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Mimimatz said:

I was on the very first river cruise in Covid times at the end of June, 7 days from Engelhartszell in Austria to Vienna, Esztergom, Budapest, Bratislava, Melk and back. It was aboard the A-Rosa Mia, a ship mainly based towards the German-speaking countries.

 

The first river cruise was June 1st with the NickoVision from Straubing to Düsseldorf. It might have been the first river cruise of A-Rosa on the Danube river... Maybe the first "international" river cruise crossing the borders of Austria/Slovakia/Hungary.

 

steamboats

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • Q&A with Chris Prelog, President of Windstar Cruises!
      • Register Now for Cruise Critic Live Special Event: Royal Caribbean
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...