Passengers on a luxury cruise with alternating departures in Greece and Egypt ended up in Paphos on Sunday for a brief stop, after the Cairo-bound ship had to turn back following a COVID case on board.
Media reported that the World Navigator, a Portuguese-flagged luxury cruise ship, arrived in Cyprus on Sunday morning for a day stop in Paphos following a change of plans days earlier due to COVID-19.
An official itinerary published online did not include Cyprus as a stop but local media said passengers disembarked Paphos in the morning and boarded buses to visit local sites.
Last week, as the World Navigator was sailing from Piraeus to Cairo when a passenger on board had tested positive during a routine check while at sea.
“One guest received a positive result. I repeat, as a result of yesterday’s Covid testing, one guest received a positive result,” the the captain was heard saying on the loud speakers, adding that “for the safety of all on board, we immediately isolated the guest.”
The captain went on to explain that isolating measures were also taken for passengers and crew identified as close contacts and urged passengers to remain vigilant.
Additional reports said the passenger reportedly had no symptoms and had even tested negative in a follow up antigen test before a PCR came back positive, while all other passengers on the ship tested negative and the ship was said to have been otherwise operating relatively normally.
“We will continue on our itinerary and I will inform you if anything changes,” the captain added.
But reports said Egyptian officials told the Navigator it could not call at Alexandria with an infected passenger on board.
According to online data on maritime traffic, the ship with 196 passengers on board then turned back to Crete, its previous port of call, where the infected passenger was to be taken off the vessel in Heraklion.
“For the health and safety of our guests and crew, we must return to Heraklion, Greece, our nearest entry port in Europe, and disembark any suspected COVID-positive guest,” it was said in a statement attributed to the cruise line.
Reports also said Atlas Ocean Voyages started making arrangements to fly some of the guests to Egypt to join the program and continue their excursions in that country, while the next steps for the Navigator remained unknown as the cruise was cut short.
“We are currently in discussions right now with the authorities to determine immediate next steps for the conclusion of our voyage and will have more information shortly,” company officials said in a statement to a media outlet.
Latest official guidelines for cruise ships issued by government health agencies around the world call for isolating passengers who test positive as well as their close contacts but otherwise allowing onboard activities to continue.
But last week’s refusal by Egyptian authorities to allow the ship to dock in Cairo, despite all measures being taken, was a sign that the industry may still need more time to establish rules that can be acceptable to all.