After 35 days of sailing without stepping foot on land, passengers onboard a Costa Cruises ship finally began disembarking in Spain on Monday.
According to The Associated Press, the Costa Deliziosa set sail from Venice in early January on a 15-week cruise that featured stops across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans before visiting Western Australia in March.
As the World Health Organization began issuing alerts for the spreading coronavirus outbreak, the Costa Cruises vessel started making only technical and refueling stops, forcing passengers to stay on board for over a month.
“It was not surreal. It was incredible,” passenger Carlos Paya told The AP. “We have family in our home countries. The news that was arriving from home was causing us all a lot of worry and grief. For us, it was a stroke of good luck to be where we were.”
The Costa Deliziosa crew tried to make stops along the way, reassuring ports there were no sick passengers on board, but the ship was turned away by multiple governments, including authorities in France who turned away their own citizens.
The vessel’s first stop in Barcelona will see 168 Spanish passengers disembark before it sails to its final destination in Genoa, Italy, where the majority of the ship’s 1,814 passengers will be allowed to stand on solid ground again.
It’s unclear if passengers leaving the Costa Deliziosa would be quarantined as a precaution.
“Of course, for those of us who have children in Spain, we would have preferred to return,” Paya continued. “Other passengers, on the other hand, given their old age, wanted to stay on board knowing that the boat was safe and secure.”
One passenger did have to leave the ship last week in Sicily due to health complications, but they were not related to the coronavirus outbreak. While the person was being tested, though, the other passengers were confined to their cabins.
Last week, TravelPulse’s Patrick Clarke wrote about how the viral pandemic could force cruise lines to change their existing policies and reevaluate their onboard offerings to entice customers back to the world’s seas and rivers.
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