River cruise ship in Europe on lockdown after COVID-19 outbreak

Sep 11, 2020

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One of several dozen river cruise ships that have resumed operations in Europe in recent months is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, according to European media outlets.

Portugal’s tvi24 reports that two passengers and five crew members on CroisiEurope’s Portugal-based, 138-passenger Vasco de Gama have tested positive for the new coronavirus.

One of the two passengers has been hospitalized, according to Expresso, another Portuguese news outlet. The other passenger has been isolated in a hotel, the outlet says.

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Expresso says the five crew members who have tested positive have been isolated on the ship, which is docked in Castelo de Paiva — a town along Portugal’s Douro River.

The outbreak came to light at the very end of a Douro River sailing, and all the passengers on the trip except the two who tested positive had departed the vessel before health authorities could stop them, according to several media outlets. They now are on their way back to their home countries in Europe.

There were 67 passengers on the voyage in all.

Related: Passenger tests positive on Tahiti-based Paul Gauguin Cruises 

The ship was sailing with 20 crew members, all of whom are now quarantined on board the vessel, according to the news reports.

A spokesperson for CroisiEurope based in the United States did not immediately have a statement on the situation.

CroisiEurope is one of Europe’s largest river cruise companies, and it has restarted river cruises in recent months in several European countries.

The line caters mostly to French-speaking travelers but traditionally draws some Americans. Americans currently aren’t allowed to sail on the line’s European river trips as they are taking place in countries that currently are off limits to U.S. leisure travelers.

Vasco de Gama is the second cruise ship to experience a significant COVID-19 outbreak since some cruise lines began resuming sailings earlier this summer.

The 535-passenger Roald Amundsen, operated by Norwegian expedition cruise company Hurtigruten, experienced a major COVID-19 outbreak just days after it resumed sailings in July. The incident prompted Hurtigruten to cancel sailings on three vessels.

Three other ships have had COVID scares since July. In all three cases, just a single passenger tested positive for the illness.

Every major cruise line around the world canceled all departures in March after the new coronavirus was declared a pandemic. But a growing number of lines in Europe and several other places around the world have been restarting limited operations since June.

Cruising remains halted in North America, where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a “no-sail” order for cruise vessels that carry more than 250 passengers.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by Karsten_1/Shutterstock.com

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