Royal Caribbean cruise ship allowed into Busan to restock

Royal Caribbean cruise vessel Spectrum of the Seas. Credit: HENK BOS

Busan Port Authority (BPA) allowed Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas to berth at the international passenger terminal at 7 am local time on 5 June 2020 to replenish its inventory.

Just two days ago, the ship had entered Shanghai to bring 400 Chinese crew members home after four months at sea.

BPA explained that Spectrum of the Seas was the first cruise ship approved for entry, in accordance with the Korea Customs Service’s criteria for admitting cruise ships that need to enter South Korean ports for logistics purposes. The approval was granted on 24 May, and Spectrum of the Seas is scheduled to leave Busan on 6 June, after replenishing its inventory with food and other daily essentials.

Many ports worldwide have become off limits to cruise ships, as governments race to contain the spread of COVID-19. There are several cruise ships that have suffered highly publicised outbreaks: Diamond Princess underwent an outbreak in Yokohama, Japan; Grand Princess was thrust into the spotlight when the virus was first detected in the US, where 2,400 passengers were allowed to disembark in the port of Oakland, California; Ruby Princess allowed 2,700 of its passengers to freely disembark in Sydney, which has led to a criminal investigation; and 150 crew members were tested positive for COVID-19 on Costa Atlantica.

Cruise ships must ensure that their crew have not disembarked at any other port within the 14 days prior to arrival. Spectrum of the Seas was allowed to enter the port for no other purpose than to replenish supplies. However, one crew was granted to return to his hometown in Pohang, while the rest of the crew are not allowed to disembark.

BPA has received confirmation from the captain and a doctor on board Spectrum of the Seas that it is free from COVID-19. The port authority added that there are no passengers on the cruise ship, which is manned by 575 crew members, including four South Koreans.

“We will strive to prepare and pre-emptively apply safe port standards to both local communities and shipping companies using Busan port,” said Nam Ki-chan, president of BPA.