Northern European ports have become the first in the world to announce plans to reopen to regular cruise operations. The bulk of ports will start to take cruise ships in May, according to a joint Cruise Britain/Cruise Europe survey of 113 ports, which also details which ports are currently handling idle ships and what kinds of services are provided.
The majority of closed ports are focusing on reopening in May, including the ports of Arendal and Flam (May 1), Port Ellen (May 7), Bordeaux, Le Havre, Nantes Saint-Nazaire and Rouen (May 11), Riga and Turku (May 13), Helsinki (May 14) and Rotterdam (May 26).
Copenhagen Malmö Port is aiming to reopen to cruise ships on June 1 and the port of Ísafjörður in Iceland is hoping to follow suit in July.
Potential health and safety measures
Hand sanitisers, signage and information leaflets emphasising hygiene and hand washing, social distancing, restrictions on hand shaking, limitations to the number of people in cruise terminals at any one time and actions to be taken in the event of cruise ship passengers becoming unwell with coronavirus are currently being explored. However, governments, health boards, and national and regional sanitary authorities are yet to offer ports firm guidance.
'It is important for our associations and members to try and give as much clarity to the cruise executives as possible', commented James Stangroom, chair, Cruise Britain, which has been liaising with cruise lines on a daily basis since mid-March. 'We are working to assist the cruise lines to come back stronger when the time is right.' It remains to be seen when lines can be ready to resume operations.
For the cruise ports currently open, measures for next call have not yet been widely issued; authorities and public health bodies are yet to indicate any strategies regarding biosecurity and as it stands, restrictions on crew and passenger movement are in accordance with individual government and port health regulations.
The research will be repeated to include fresh information as the situation relating to coronavirus evolves, and the results sent to itinerary planners worldwide with links for monitoring government advice and regulations.