COVID scare on cruise ship in Mediterranean is false alarm, line says

Sep 29, 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.

A COVID scare this week on one of the first large cruise ships to resume sailings in the Mediterranean was a “false alarm,” according to the line that operates the vessel.

Germany-based TUI Cruises on Tuesday said 12 crew members on the 2,534-passenger Mein Schiff 6 who tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days as the ship was sailing in Greek waters have subsequently tested negative in three follow-up tests.

The positive results on the original round of tests are assumed to be an error.

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

“The safety of the guests, the crew, but also the Greek population is the top priority for TUI Cruises,” TUI Cruises CEO Wybcke Meier said in a statement Tuesday after the retest results were announced. “I would like to thank all the responsible authorities for their good and professional cooperation in connection with the unclear test results on board Mein Schiff 6.”

Meier said that the vessel on Wednesday would resume a seven-day voyage that had been interrupted after the positive test results came in.

Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

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

The 12 positive results came to light on Monday after routine COVID-19 tests were administered to 150 crew members on Mein Schiff 6. The tests were processed by an outside laboratory on the Greek island of Crete after the ship departed the island on Sunday.

In the wake of the positive results, TUI Cruises isolated the 12 crew members and performed secondary tests throughout the day Monday with a testing machine on board Mein Schiff 6. All of the follow-up tests came back negative.

After the ship arrived in Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens) on Tuesday, local authorities performed two more follow-up tests — one a PCR test and one an antigen test — on the 12 crew members. They also tested an additional 24 crew members who had been in contact with them.

All the tests came back negative.

None of the crew members had symptoms of COVID-19.

TUI Cruises caters primarily to German-speaking travelers. It is 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 resumed cruises since the coronavirus lockdown began.

TUI Cruises has been among the most aggressive of the world’s 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.

Due to the additional testing of crew on Tuesday, passengers were not allowed off the ship in Piraeus to take part in previously scheduled shore excursions. TUI Cruises is keeping the ship an extra day in Piraeus so the shore excursions can be switched to Wednesday.

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. Two more major brands — MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises — plan to restart Greece cruises in the coming weeks.

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.