Police intervenes on quarantined Mein Schiff 3

IHS Markit AIS data of Mein Schiff 3 showing its last port before coming to Cuxhaven, Germany, as Santa Cruz, Tenerife. Credit: IHS Markit

All 2,900 Mein Schiff 3 crew are to remain quarantined onboard the ship anchored in Cuxhaven, Germany. Initially, ship owner TUI Cruises wanted to transfer crew, which have tested negative for the virus, to sister ship Mein Schiff 6, currently anchoring in the Elbe River on standby, on Tuesday, 5 May in order to repatriate them.

The quarantine is not going smoothly. Police was called onboard after furniture was smashed over the weekend. Talking to German public broadcaster NDR, crew said that conditions onboard are prison-like as some stay in window-less cabins. Others complained that they haven’t been able to leave the ship for the past 50 days and are not being paid as their contracts have expired. It is estimated that around 10,000 other crew face the same dilemma.

The ship was only allowed to berth in Cuxhaven as TUI Cruises said that no crew had been exposed to external contacts since 23 March and that nobody on board had shown COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days.

This seems questionable as the last call of the Mein Schiff 3 was the port of Santa Cruz in Tenerife on 17-18 April where the ship stayed overnight, 24 hours in total. According to NDR, the ship bunkered and took in food supplies and also let more crew board.

It also called at the same port on 6 April and stayed for 11 hours, according to IHS Markit AIS tracking.

The ship has been anchored in Cuxhaven since 28 April. Following 15 crew showing flu-like symptoms on arrival, on 1 May, TUI Cruises announced that one crew member had been tested positively for the virus, resulting in quarantine for all onboard.

Seven infected crew are in isolation on board the ship, one is in a local hospital. Overall, two thirds of crew tests have come back negative. The results of the remaining tests were expected to come in on 5 May.

The ship’s journey started as a collection of crews from stranded TUI Cruises ships in the Mediterranean in March in order to enable them to go home.

110 crew have already left the ship to fly to their respective home countries since the ship arrived in Cuxhaven. They have been contacted and asked to continue quarantine on arrival.

Currently, TUI Cruises plans that 900 negatively-tested crew can fly home to Kiev, Ukraine, and Jakarta, Indonesia, from Friday on, using chartered flights.