Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has managed to safely bring its passengers back to the UK, with the first guests arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport this morning.
The guests were from the cruise line’s ship Braemar, which was stranded in the Caribbean following the global coronavirus pandemic.
Following the suspension of its operations, the cruise line chartered four flights to return the passengers on board Braemar back to the UK.
All 682 passengers disembarked the ship in the Port of Mariel, Cuba, last night, with fit and healthy passengers taking one of the three flights chartered to British Airways.
The fourth flight was specially chartered in conjunction with the Foreign Office, for guests experiencing flu-like symptoms and those who had been diagnosed with coronavirus( covid-19).
The fourth flight is due to arrive at MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines made sure that its guests were as comfortable and happy as possible, treating them to care packages as they landed.
This included long-life milk, teabags, biscuits and fresh fruit, helping towards stock for their cupboards and providing refreshments for their onward journeys home.
Braemar update – We can confirm that British Airways flight BA9114C landed at London Heathrow's Terminal 5 at 11:19 this morning.
— Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines (@FredOlsenCruise) March 19, 2020
“I would like to thank all of our guests for their patience as we worked around the clock to get them back to the UK. We know that at times this was a frustrating process, and it was not the way they, or we, had anticipated the end to their holiday,” said managing director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Peter Deer.
“As we have already seen in the Caribbean, the world, including the UK, has become a very different place over the past few weeks. I hope this small gesture of a care package goes some way to showing our thanks to them all in what has become a very challenging and unprecedented time.
“Once again, I would like to extend my thanks, on behalf of us all on Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, for those who have worked so hard to get our guests home, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cuban Authorities and the Port of Mariel, the Department for Transport, the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health and Social Care.”
The repatriation came after one guest and four crew members tested positive for covid-19 on board the cruise ship. This led to the ship being unable to disembark guests in Barbados on Thursday 12 March.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has now temporarily suspended all operations until 23 May 2020.
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.