Breaking: COVID-19 scare on one of first ships to resume cruising

Sep 28, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

One of the first large cruise ships to resume sailings in the Mediterranean since the worldwide halt to cruising in March is in the midst of a coronavirus scare.

A dozen crew members on the 2,534-passenger TUI Cruises vessel Mein Schiff 6 have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the line.

The ship had just begun a seven-night voyage around Greece from the port of Heraklion in Crete.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter.

The vessel is now heading to Piraeus, the port for Athens, where it had been scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.

In a statement to The Points Guy, TUI Cruises said the 12 crew members who tested positive have been isolated, and the line is in the process of retesting them using a rapid test device onboard.

The initial tests that had come back positive were done by an external laboratory.

So far, six of the onboard rapid tests have come back, and they all have been negative, TUI Cruises said in the statement. The line said it would take further swabs from the crew members and send them to an external laboratory for yet another round of testing.

None of the 12 crew members has any symptoms, the line said.

TUI Cruises downplayed the situation onboard, saying the isolation of the crew who tested positive was “a pure precautionary measure” and the retesting was being done “to rule out the unlikely case of infection.”

The line said that “thanks to the extensive hygiene measures and clearance rules on board, there is no reason for neither guests nor crew to worry.”

The 12 positive results occurred after the ship tested 150 crew members as part of routine monitoring. The ship currently is sailing with 666 crew members and 922 passengers.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles

Mein Schiff 6
The TUI Cruises ship Mein Schiff 6. (Photo courtesy of TUI Cruises)

TUI Cruises is a German line owned in part by Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea. It is the only Royal Caribbean-affiliated line that has attempted to resume cruises since the coronavirus lockdown began.

TUI Cruises has been among the most aggressive of the major lines in returning to service since the coronavirus crisis began. It began “cruises to nowhere” out of ports in Northern Germany in July with two ships. It added cruises around Greece just two weeks ago.

Mein Schiff 6 had just begun its third sailing around Greece when the positive COVID-19 tests came to light.

The coronavirus scare on the ship comes as Royal Caribbean and several other major lines including Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line weigh plans to resume cruising in at least some parts of the world as soon as November.

Related: Royal Caribbean CEO to TPG: ‘We feel as if we’re close’

The limited restart of cruising by TUI Cruises and a handful of other cruise operators in the Mediterranean since August is being closely watched by lines considering a return to service.

TUI Cruises was the first major line to resume sailings around Greece. But two more major brands — MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises — plan to restart Greece cruises in the coming weeks.

The coronavirus scare on Mein Schiff 6 is likely to raise questions about the way TUI Cruises is handling COVID-19 testing for passengers sailing on the ship.

TUI Cruises is requiring that all passengers test negative for COVID-19 before boarding the vessel. But unlike the two other major lines that have resumed limited cruises in the Mediterranean — MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises — it isn’t doing the tests at the pier as passengers board. Passengers can take the test a few days before they travel.

The looser policy means that a Mein Schiff 6 passenger who contracted COVID-19 after being tested but before traveling to the ship could carry the illness on board.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image courtesy of TUI Cruises

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.