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TUI Cruises readies to start sailing from Greece

PHOTO: TUI CRUISES CRUISE_Mein_Schiff_2.jpg
Mein Schiff 2 is readying for weeklong cruises from Heraklion, calling at Piraeus and Corfu, with scenic sailing of Santorini
TUI Cruises is preparing to start sailing from Greece on Sept. 13, which could make it the first international line to do so since the pandemic.

Marcus Puttich, head of port & ground operations, told the Cruise Europe newsletter Mein Schiff 2 is readying for weeklong cruises from Heraklion, calling at Piraeus and Corfu, with scenic sailing of Santorini.

Charter flights, controlled excursions

Passengers will arrive on charter flights from Germany, and these will be TUI's first cruises with shore excursions that must be booked through the line. (Tours are provided by Intercruises, part of the TUI Group.)

Starting this month, TUI Cruises will be requiring passengers to present a negative SARS-CoV-19 PCR test and, like sister company Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, it has an arrangement with Germany's Helios hospitals to conduct the tests.

MSC to follow Sept. 26

MSC Cruises plans to begin Greece sailings on MSC Magnifica Sept. 26, a date it pushed back from late August, while Marella Cruises canceled what would have been its re-entry to service with cruises from Corfu in October, and instead aims to start from the Canary Islands in mid-November.

TUI Cruises resumed sailing July 24 when Mein Schiff 2 embarked from Hamburg on a short scenic cruise to Norway. Mein Schiff 1 then began short sailings from Kiel July 31, with both ships progressing to weeklong cruises on Aug. 7, according to the Cruise Europe newsletter. Capacity initially was held at 50%, or 1,500 passengers, and, now, 60%.

When Norwegian ports closed to cruise ships carrying more than 100 passengers following Hurtigruten's coronavirus outbreak, TUI switched from navigating to southern Norway and the Oslofjord and went toward the Baltic, Stockholm and Turku.

So far, Puttich told the Cruise Europe newsletter, no passengers or crew on an active TUI ship have exhibited coronavirus symptoms.

For more about Greece, see 'Greece cruising restart roiled, HAL ships go to Seajets'

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