Cruise passenger banned from re-boarding in Italy after breaking Covid rules

It looks like an extended stay in Catania, on the island of Sicily, for one cruise ship passenger
The passenger strayed from the group during an offshore excursion in Catania, on the island of Sicily Credit: GETTY

A passenger on AIDAblu – the first AIDA Cruises’ ship to resume cruising during the time of Covid-19 – was banned from reboarding after straying from a shore excursion in Catania, Italy, this week.

In doing so the passenger broke AIDA Cruises’ strict coronavirus protocols that prohibit independent exploration. At present, passengers on AIDA cruises are only allowed ashore via a guided AIDA excursion.

A spokesperson for the German cruise line, which is owned by Carnival Corporation, told The Telegraph: “During a shore excursion organised by AIDA Cruises in Catania, Italy, on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, a guest of AIDAblu left his travel group, which violated our protocols for protection and mitigation against Covid-19.

“Our highest responsibility and top priorities are compliance, environmental protection and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, crew, shoreside employees, and the people and communities our ships visit. As a result, the guest was unable to continue sailing on AIDAblu, and AIDA supported the guest in organising his trip home.

“As part of AIDA’s enhanced health and safety protocols to protect our guests, crew and the communities we visit, only AIDA-organised shore excursions are possible for guests wishing to disembark at ports of call. All guests are made aware of this protocol before the cruise and again before their shore excursion starts.”

AIDAblu sailing on a pre-pandemic cruise Credit: Kateryna Mashkevych

AIDAblu departed from Civitavecchia, Italy, on Saturday October 17 for the line's first sailing since coronavirus outbreak.

This isn't the first time a cruise line has barred a passenger from rejoining a ship after breaking protocols.

In August, MSC Cruises blocked a family of four from reboarding its flagship MSC Grandiosa after they broke from their tour group during an onshore excursion in Naples and breached “social bubble” rules.

Speaking exclusively to The Telegraph, Gianni Onorato, chief executive officer at MSC Cruises, said: “We had to deny re-embarkation to one family, who separated from an MSC shore excursion to explore the city of Naples on their own for 30 minutes, which is patently against the rules.

“I was disappointed for them but they broke the ‘social bubble’, put in place to avoid the spread of coronavirus and protect our other guests and crew.”

Elsewhere in Greece, Tui Cruises reportedly removed two passengers after they left a group excursion to grab a beer.

The majority of cruise lines that have cautiously resumed sailing in Europe such as AIDA Cruises, MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises have included a shore excursion protocol, designed to minimise the risk of exposure off the ship.

Cruising is still on pause in US waters after America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended their no-sail order through at least October 31.

When cruise lines are given the green light to restart sailing in America, guidelines about shore excursions – outlined in the Healthy Sail panel, a joint project between Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean Group – are also expected.

In an interview with The Telegraph to discuss the findings of the Healthy Sail panel, Richard Fain, the chairman and chief executive of Royal Caribbean Group, said: “A lot of industries and a lot of businesses have assembled panels of experts to advise them but the differences with this panel and report is the calibre of the participants: their experience, their prestige, their knowledge. This really is what we in the States would call the all-star team.”