Travellers who shelled out £18k on a once in a lifetime round-the-world cruise dream holiday soon saw it turn to a nightmare when the coronavirus pandemic struck the world. The ship was immediately forced to redirect back to the UK, where it has safely arrived this morning with some passengers still on board.
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The 120-night “world cruise of a lifetime” departed from London on January 6 and was set to take in destinations including South Pacific islands, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Seychelles, Kenya, South Africa, Tristan da Cunha and brazil, however, was cut short when the pandemic struck.
Immediately the Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ vessel was ordered to reroute from Thailand back to the UK.
It made a stop at Sri Lanka, acting as a repatriation vessel.
The ship MV Columbus was carrying 907 passengers including 602 British nationals and 619 crew on the 7,842-nautical mile journey from Phuket.
Before its journey back to Tilbury, Essex, passengers on board who did not wish to return to the UK were allowed to disembark and transfer onto a sister ship.
The second ship, Vasco De Gama, was heading to Fremantle, Western Australia.
Many Australian holidaymakers opted to jump ship, being transferred by lifeboat to the new vessel.
A source told news.comau they anticipated the journey to Australia would take around 10 days.
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Meanwhile, 67 European and British passengers were reported to have been transferred onto the MV Columbus ship.
The voyage back to UK shores included a technical call in Colombo, Sri Lanka, transited the Suez Canal and five passengers were repatriated via tender to Malta and Gibraltar before Columbus arrived today at the London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury at 8:00 am.
The cruise line said that its top priority throughout the journey was: “The health and safety of all our passengers and crew.”
A statement on the company website added: “Columbus has remained under heightened levels of hygiene protocols during the repatriation voyage.”
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Christian Verhounig, CEO at Cruise & Maritime Voyages said, “We are tremendously proud of our onboard and shoreside teams for their fantastic job organising this repatriation voyage to bring our passengers home.
“On behalf of the directors, staff and especially our hard-working crew, CMV would like to thank all of our passengers for their support, patience and understanding at this time.”
The cruise line has also since cancelled further sailings due to the pandemic and subsequent global lockdown.
An updated statement on the company website explains: “Due to the continued escalation of the global pandemic outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Government advisories still in force and the lockdown of many countries and ports around the world, Cruise & Maritime Voyages have decided to extend the suspension of all our worldwide cruises for a further month until 24th May 2020.”
Affected customers who hope to cruise at a later date are being offered a cruise credit voucher valued at 125 percent.
Those travelling in advance of July 31 are also being offered the opportunity to transfer to a later date free of charge.
The UK government maintains that Britons should avoid all non-essential travel for an indefinite period.
Elsewhere, global borders remain in lockdown and the CDC has extended its “no-sail ban”.
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