Costa Fortuna cancels next 2 cruises out of Singapore due to 'restrictive' COVID-19 measures by other ports
SINGAPORE: The Costa Fortuna cruise ship docked in Singapore has had its next two trips cancelled following "restrictive measures" by ports in the ship's itineraries.
Cruise operator Costa Crociere told CNA on Tuesday (Mar 10) that the cruise was due to depart on Tuesday for a seven-day trip from Singapore to Thailand and Malaysia; and on Mar 17 for a 21-day, one-way trip from Singapore to Savona in Italy.
"The decision was deemed necessary (on) the basis of the restrictive measures currently applied by ports included in the ship’s itineraries," the operator said.
"The situation would not have responded to guests’ expectations and to the standards of Costa Crociere."
The Costa Fortuna docked in Singapore's Marina Bay Cruise Centre on Tuesday after it was turned away at ports in Malaysia and Thailand amid fears of COVID-19, despite having no suspected coronavirus cases among its passengers and crew.
The cruise was carrying dozens of Italian passengers at a time when the whole of Italy is under lockdown due to the virus.
Singapore authorities had said that disembarking passengers will undergo health checks, with those displaying symptoms of the disease taken to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
"In a continuously evolving scenario, Costa Crociere is constantly monitoring the restrictive measures adopted by government authorities in the destinations where its ships call," the operator said.
"The changes in the itineraries have been caused by such increased restrictions imposed by destinations and not for medical reasons."
According to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre website, the Costa Fortuna was scheduled to depart for Koh Samui in Thailand on Tuesday at 8pm.
When asked if the cruise will remain docked in Singapore now that its next two trips have been cancelled, Costa Crociere said it was "still working on that". It said the ship would eventually sail back to Europe without passengers.
On Tuesday, CNA observed that a number of passengers were turned away from the cruise centre after indicating they were there to board the Costa Fortuna. Staff handed them flyers and informed them of alternative travel arrangements.
In the flyer seen by CNA, Costa Crociere cited "unexpected measures issued in the latest hours" by port authorities at its destinations as one reason for cancelling the Tuesday cruise.
"The alert level for COVID-19 declared by the World Health Organization has been raised and has led the health authorities of some countries to further increase their precautionary measures by introducing a series of bans on entry into their territories," the operator said.
The operator said it would offer passengers vouchers valued at the price of a new cruise. The voucher can be used within 12 months from the date of issue and for departures not later than November 2021.
It would also reimburse passengers for cancellation fees on flights they had booked to reach the port of departure.
Costa Crociere said it is committed to ensuring the safety of guests and crew. "We strongly apologise for the situation that has arisen," it added.