The removal of a passengers who break COVID rules onboard their European cruises, is setting a precedence for when sailings returns to Australia.
Just this week, a passenger who was travelling onboard the AIDAblu strayed from a ship shore excursion in Catania in Italy. The passenger breached the strict health and safety regulations around shore excursions that do not allow guests to explore destinations outside of ship’s organised groups.
In a statement responding to the incident, AIDA Cruises said: “The health and safety of all guests and crew members onboard AIDAblu has the highest priority. For this reason, the guest was refused further travel onboard AIDAblu. AIDA Cruises will assist the guest in organising his return journey.”
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has been working at an industry level to develop protocols and procedures to support the resumption of cruising in Australia and New Zealand, guidelines about shore excursions are expected.
CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said: “Though the precise details are yet to be announced, the stringent measures we have seen enforced in Europe are indicative of robust approach cruise lines will take here”.
Royal Caribbean, a partial investor in German Line TUI who according to Cruise Critic sent home two guests for straying from a shore excursion for a beer has said they will follow the recommendations of their Healthy Sail Panel.
“Our Healthy sail Panel recommends that cruise operators strongly discourage self-guided tours and exploration until further notice. Operators should strongly recommend that ship guests only participate in cruise-line sponsored excursions during the initial return to sailing as a way of limiting potential exposures in the destinations they visit,” Royal Caribbean said.
Carnival Corporation, who represent a large portion of cruise lines sailing in Australia has said it is not their intention to comment from this distance on whether rules will stay this strict when cruises resume in Australia but are aware the CLIA protocols are on the way.
MSC was the first cruise line to bar guests from returning to the ship after a family of five also broke away from a shore excursion.
“By departing from the organised shore excursion, this family broke from the “social bubble” created for them and all other guests, and therefore could not be permitted to re-board the ship,” MSC said at the time.