Cruise ship completes month-long repatriation voyage

A cruise ship, which sailed from Thailand almost a month ago on repatriation voyage, was due back in the UK today (Tuesday).

Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ vessel Columbus was carrying 907 passengers including 602 British nationals and 619 crew on the 7,842-nautical mile journey from Phuket.

The voyage included a technical call in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and a transit of the Suez Canal. Five passengers were dropped off via tender to Malta and Gibraltar.

The ship was due to dock at the London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury at 8am.

Columbus had been on a 120-night world cruise which left London Tilbury on January 6 before being diverted back to the UK on March 18 due to the global coronavirus crisis.

The line stressed that no coronavirus cases has been recorded with any passengers or crew on board Columbus or any other of its ships in six-strong fleet.

“CMV’s top and overriding priority is the health and safety of all our passengers and crew,” a spokesperson said.

“Columbus has remained under heightened levels of hygiene protocols during the repatriation voyage.

“CMV carried out a unique passenger transfer operation at sea, just off the coast of Phuket, in order to transfer British Nationals from CMV’s Vasco da Gama to Columbus to bring them home to London.

“At the same time, Australian passengers were transferred from Columbus to Vasco da Gama in order to repatriate them to Fremantle.”

CMV has been in regular contact with UK Department of Transport, Border Force, UK Public Health, the Port of Tilbury, as well as cruise industry body Clia, to confirm details of the arrival into London Tilbury.

A strict phased disembarkation process incorporating social distancing measures will take place. CMV has worked with non-British passengers and their respective embassies to ensure their onward travel home.

All other CMV cruise ships have returned to their home ports except Vasco da Gama which is due back into London Tilbury with no passengers on board on April 30.

Chief executive Christian Verhounig said: “We are tremendously proud of our onboard and shoreside teams for their fantastic job organising this repatriation voyage to bring our passengers home.

“On behalf of the directors, staff and especially our hard-working crew, CMV would like to thank all of our passengers for their support, patience and understanding at this time.”

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