Cruising during the COVID-19 pandemic is off to a rocky start.
Nearly a month after Carnival Corporation began promoting and selling tickets for its first comeback cruises on AIDA brand ships in Germany scheduled to launch this week, the company canceled two cruises because it has not yet received necessary approvals from Italy, the ships' flag state.
"This has typically not been an issue in the past, especially once other necessary regulatory approvals had been secured," said Carnival Corp. spokesperson Roger Frizzell in an email. "But this is a new day that requires even greater scrutiny with our review process tied to our various cruise policies and protocols, especially health -- something that will ultimately benefit our guests, our crew members and our cruise line in the process."
The false start comes after 10 AIDA crew members tested positive for COVID-19 last week after traveling to Germany from the Philippines and Indonesia to begin working.
And they aren't the only cruise companies affected.
Three crew members on two of Carnival Corp.'s Costa Cruises ships off the coast of Italy tested positive over the weekend, and two had to be hospitalized.
TUI Cruises, partially owned by Royal Caribbean Group, canceled its July 31 German-based cruise to nowhere on its Mein Schiff 1 ship when it could not get enough crew to Germany to operate the ship following positive tests of five newly arrived crew members.
A passenger on French cruise company Ponant's Paul Gauguin cruise ship tested positive for the virus Sunday and the ship's passengers and crew are now quarantined on board in Tahiti awaiting test results.
The largest outbreak occurred on a ship owned by Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten. When it resumed cruising in early July, Hurtigruten was the first company to do so following a four-month pause in cruising worldwide.
Norwegian health authorities notified Hurtigruten on July 29 that one of the 209 passengers aboard its MS Roald Amundsen ship's July 17 cruise had tested positive for COVID-19 after disembarking on July 24, according to Norwegian media.