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First cruise ship sets sail from German port since COVD-19 lockdown

PortandTerminal.com, July 25, 2020

HAMBURG, GERMANY – A cruise ship operated by Germany’s travel company TUI set sail on Friday night from the northern city of Hamburg for a three-day round trip in the North Sea. It is the first cruise ship sail from a German port since the COVID-19 outbreak slammed the travel industry.

TUI’s cruise ship Mein Schiff 2 (My Ship 2) will make a three-day round trip in the North Sea carrying 1,200 passengers – just 40% of its normal capacity of 2,900. Guests will spend the weekend at sea on what is being billed as a “Blue Voyage” with no stops on land, eventually returning to Hamburg on Monday morning.

TUI’s Instagram account for the ship posted an image on social media ahead of its departure. 

“Today it finally starts again,” TUI wrote in the caption of the post, translated from German. “Mein Schiff 2 is ready and so are we.”

Safety measures onboard

Food on plate. Ship's dining room. Masks. Customer. Waitress.
Passengers will not be offered buffets as one of many safety protocols being implemented on the “Blue Voyage” cruise

Onboard, passengers and crew are required to stay 5 feet away or wear protective masks and won’t serve themselves at the ship’s buffet. All passengers filled out a health questionnaire before boarding and had temperature checks.

Unhappy customers

Not everyone is happy to see TUI sailing again. Cash strapped cruise lines like TUI continue to receive complaints from customers who have not been refunded for cruises cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that shut the industry down.

A post on Twitter today by Fritz Joussen, TUI Group CEO, received numerous angry complaints about outstanding refunds owed to customers.

TUI and other cruise lines face an uphill battle against time as they burn through cash at a furious rate. Not only do they need governments to allow them to begin cruising again, but they must also win back tarnished customer goodwill and trust as they implement strict new health protocols. Said one travel industry expert to Germany’s DW, “A cruise that mainly consists of sea days and social distancing does not correspond to what I consider an attractive holiday experience.”

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Contributing: The Associated Press, DW

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