Cruise & Maritime Voyages has pulled off a tricky operation to repatriate its customers following the coronavirus outbreak.
The cruise line revealed that two of its ships, Columbus and Vasco da Gama, rendezvoused at sea 12 nautical miles off the coast of Phuket, Thailand, with a rescue mission in mind.
Undertaking a unique at-sea operation, the cruise line orchestrated the repatriation of 239 passengers.
The exchange happened just days after the budget-friendly cruise line revealed it was temporarily suspending all operations.
Yesterday (Wednesday 18 March 2020), Columbus and Vasco da Gama undertook a unique transfer operation at sea, 12 nautical miles off the coast of Phuket, Thailand.
— Cruise & Maritime (@CMVoyages) March 19, 2020
CMV was forced to carry out the operation after the Port of Phuket was closed to cruise ships, along with many other ports in South East Asia and the Indian sub-continent.
Before her voyage curtailed in Semarang (Indonesia) Columbus has been sailing a four-month round-the-world voyage carrying 1,020 passengers.
Vasco da Gama was sailing a northbound voyage from Fremantle and Singapore via the Suez Canal to London Tilbury, carrying 839 passengers.
The huge operation included the transfer of 500 pieces of luggage and 239 passengers, all completed by tender.
Due to the incredible effort by all officers and crew, the operation started at 6:30 am and was completed by 12 noon.
“We are tremendously proud of our onboard and shoreside teams for their fantastic job in delivering this safe and effective evacuation and relief operation,” said Christian Verhounig, chief executive at CMV.
“On behalf of the directors, staff and especially our hard-working crew CMV would like to thank all our current passengers for their support, patience and understanding during this repatriation operation.”
With passengers safely on board, Columbus is now sailing 7,842 nautical miles back to the UK, with 907 passengers on board (602 British nationals) and 619 crew members.
The voyage will call at Colombo, Sri Lanka, and return to London via the Suez Canal, arriving in Tilbury on 13 April.
Vasco da Gama is on her way back to Australian waters, travelling 2,837 nautical miles with 952 passengers on board (907 Oz and NZ nationals) and 552 crew members. The ship will arrive in Fremantle, Perth, on 27 March.
Apart from its ships still in operation, Cruise & Maritime Voyages has suspended all operations to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
For an up-to-date list of all cruise lines who’ve suspended sailings, and what to do if your cruise is affected, read our guide to rebooking and cancelling your cruise.
For the latest advice on coronavirus, visit gov.uk.
The cruise industry is facing an unprecedented and ever-changing situation and we are committed to keeping you informed with the most up-to-date news as we receive it from the sector. However, we firmly believe that the cruise industry will bounce back. When it does, we’ll be on hand to inspire with destination inspiration and exciting cruise itineraries for the years to come.