New Atlas Ocean Voyages ship cancels Egypt call after passenger tests positive for COVID-19

Aug 10, 2021

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Editor’s note: TPG’s Gene Sloan is sailing on Atlas Ocean Voyages’ World Navigator as a guest of the line.

New cruise line Atlas Ocean Voyages is making a last-minute adjustment to its inaugural voyage after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19.

In a shipwide announcement late Tuesday, the captain of the line’s 196-passenger World Navigator said the vessel would not call at Alexandria, Egypt, on Wednesday as scheduled due to the presence of the COVID-19-positive passenger.

Instead, the ship is now on its way back to Heraklion, Crete, in Greece — its previous port of call. The vessel — on which I am currently sailing — spent Monday in the port.

A representative of the line told TPG that officials in Egypt would not allow the ship to dock on Wednesday with a positive passenger on board. He said the passenger would be taken off the vessel in Heraklion. What the ship will do after that is still being decided. The cruise — a nine-night Greek Islands sailing that began in Piraeus, Greece (the port for Athens) on Aug. 6 — had been scheduled to end in Alexandria on Friday morning.

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“For the health and safety of our guests and crew, we must return to Heraklion, Greece, our nearest entry port in Europe, and disembark any suspected COVID-positive guest,” the line said in a statement sent to TPG. “We are currently in discussions right now with the authorities to determine immediate next steps for the conclusion of our voyage and will have more information shortly.”

The positive case came to light during routine testing of all passengers in advance of the ship’s arrival in Egypt. All passengers were tested for COVID-19 in Heraklion on Monday with a PCR test, and the results came back late Tuesday morning.

A follow-up antigen test of the passenger who tested positive, taken shortly thereafter, came back negative, suggesting that the initial result could have been a false positive. But a third test, processed Tuesday afternoon with a PCR machine on board the ship, also came back positive.

The 196-passenger World Navigator docked at the island of Nafplion in Greece on Thursday. (Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)

The passenger has had no symptoms. All other passengers on the ship tested negative.

Such positive cases on ships are not unusual, and most sailings in the past few months on which they have occurred have gone on without incident.

The latest guidelines for cruise ships issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government health agencies around the world call for isolating passengers who test positive on a cruise as well as their close contacts but otherwise allowing onboard activities to continue.

The positive case on the World Navigator sailing is only noteworthy in that it is preventing the ship from calling in Egypt on Wednesday.

World Navigator was to have been the first cruise ship to call in Alexandria since the coronavirus pandemic began, and the Egyptian government had been eager for its arrival.

The ship still could head for Egypt after the passenger who tested positive is taken off the vessel in Heraklion. World Navigator is expected to arrive in Heraklion on Wednesday afternoon.

The passenger who tested positive for COVID-19 has been isolated on board, as have passengers and crew who were in close contact with the passenger. But, otherwise, the ship is operating relatively normally.

TPG’s Gene Sloan is reporting live from the inaugural voyage of World Navigator. You can find all of his dispatches on his author’s page.

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Featured image by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy 

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