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Plans are being finalized to repatriate passengers on Fred. Olsen's Braemar via British Airways flights from Havana, departing overnight Wednesday

March 17 updates: Zaandam, Braemar, Palm Beach helps resident line, MedCruise message, Grand Princess goes

In addition to feature story coverage, here's a quick read of some of today’s other coronavirus-related cruise news and announcements.

Keep checking back. This is being continuously updated.

Punta Arenas turns away Zaandam

Holland America Line had expected to disembark Zaandam Monday in Chile but the ship was turned away from Punta Arenas. HAL said there are no known or suspected cases of COVID-19 on board, and it is working on options for passengers to disembark and travel home as soon as possible.

Zaandam is now en route to San Antonio, Chile, for a service call to take on fuel and provisions. This was a 14-day South America voyage scheduled to end March 21 before HAL announced a 30-day pause in operations.

Braemar holding off Havana

Fred. Olsen's Braemar is positioned about five miles off the coast of Havana, awaiting the finalization of disembarkation and flight schedules. It is planned that most passengers will fly back to the UK overnight Wednesday on three British Airways flights. Those with flu-iike symptoms will be on a separate flight, being coordinated with the British governnment. 

Palm Beach assists resident cruise line

In an emergency meeting, the Port of Palm Beach Board of Commission voted to provide Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line approximately $7,000 per day toward the ongoing costs of maintaining Grand Celebration in port. This will be in the form of advance payments to be returned to the port over time, once operations resume (planned for April 10).

'As a family-owned business, this financial support from our friends at the port means more now than ever ... and we are eternally grateful,' said Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line.

MedCruise: Calm and solidarity

MedCruise Association voiced support for all its 73 port members representing more than 135 ports, 33 associate members from 21 countries and the cruise industry community and partners.

MedCruise President Airam Díaz Pastor also sought to transmit a 'message of calm. Right now, it is time to assist your clients, support them and try to find solutions to their challenges,' he said. 'This situation will have a big economic impact in our companies as well as in our communities. However, I am pretty sure that with our work and commitment, we will get over this challenging but also temporary period.

'We need also to encourage our companies and societies to help in mitigating this slow down on the cruise industry. I believe this will make us even stronger and we will learn from this situation.'

Grand Princess leaves Oakland/care team support

Princess Cruises confirmed all passengers and more than half of the crew members have disembarked Grand Princess. The ship has left the Port of Oakland and is anchored in San Francisco Bay. 

When the US Department of Health and Human Services began the disembarkation process March 9, Princess activated its care team operations to provide support services and family assistance in the transition to shoreside care and quarantine facilities.

Care team services cover a multitude of things, from assisting with procurement of items such as toilet paper, soap, cell phones, baby food, walkers, shower chairs and more at military bases, to regular phone calls, help with medication needs, care packages and providing hotel stays after the quarantine ends for passengers whose family or traveling companions tested positive so everyone can travel home together.  

Bermuda

Cruise lines serving Bermuda have voluntarily suspended travel through at least April 14. Thus far, that represents nine cruise calls and what was estimated to be about 20,000 passengers, according to Glenn Jones, interim CEO & chief experience development officer, Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Silver Shadow in Brazil and Silver Explorer in Chile

Two Silver Shadow passengers were earlier medically disembarked in Recife, Brazil. One tested positive for COVID-19 and the other negative. One passenger on Silver Explorer who tested positive was medically disembarked in Tortel, Chile.

'We are in close coordination with the governments and local health authorities to determine next best steps,' Silversea Cruises said. 'We have asked guests on the ships to temporarily remain in their cabins in accordance with our medical isolation protocols.'

Hurtigruten's flexible policy

Hurtigruten is allowing travelers booked on departures from March 12 through June 20 to change their bookings to any cruise — expedition or coastal — from July 1, 2020, to July 1, 2021. The offer is also valid for any new bookings made by April 30 this year. A future cruise voucher in the amount of 100%, including Hurtigruten-booked extras like flights, plus a 10% discount on the future trip will be given. 

Hurtigruten's Americas office is also offering a reduced $500 deposit for new bookings, valid for bookings made between March 1 and April 30.

 

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