A Costa Cruises ship, with approximately 200 Britons on board, was turned away in Marseille amid the coronavirus border lockdown. Passengers onboard the ship turned to “mutiny” when the cruise line announced late last night that they would not be allowed to disembark as originally planned.
Appearing on a BBC News interview Julia Hann, French Tutor from Cardiff who is on board the ship explained what has happened so far.
“It has been a very very tense morning and we’ve actually now set sail for Genoa. We were supposed to set sail at 5’o’clock but I think there was so much mutiny on the bounty on board that they’ve taken up the anchor and set sail much earlier to Genoa.
“It’s a very difficult situation and the Costa is really not keeping us well informed.”
Express.co.uk contacted Costa Cruises, a spokesperson said: “Costa Pacifica disembarked the French guests and left the port of Marseille. The ship will arrive in Genoa, the final call for her itinerary, on March 21, where all the remaining guests currently on board will disembark and will return home.
“Unfortunately, the French Authority did not allow the disembarkation of any other nationality in Marseille due to the recent decisions of the Government to restrict travel in the country. Costa Crociere is working endlessly to find the best travel plan solutions to guarantee a safe journey back to the guests’ original destination.
“Once disembarked, Guests will be accompanied to their flights and transfers, organized by Costa through a sanitary cordon of isolation.
All health procedures have been agreed according to latest international guidelines. At the moment the health situation on board is regular and does not present any issue. Monitoring and screening onboard is kept ongoing to make sure the situation is under control and preserve the health of guests and crew before their disembarkation.”
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Ms Hann says there are no suspected cases of COVID-19 on board, and that this further adds confusion as to why the French would not let the passengers disembark so that they could be repatriated to their homes.
“The one thing that we have in our favour is that we have no coronavirus on this ship,” she said.
“We’ve done a voyage from South America so when we left South America on March 9, which is nearly two weeks ago, there were very few cases.
” So there is no reason why the French authorities couldn’t have let us disembark in Marseille.
“The ship has got around 200 Britons including about six from Wales, one of whom is me,” explained Ms Hann.
“But there are so many different nationalities. There are Argentinians, Brazilians, Germans, New Zealanders, Canadians, South Africans. Every nationality you can possibly think of is on this ship.
“We thought they were going to get us all off at Marseille, get us all to the airport, everybody to Heathrow and then everybody to travel around the world from Heathrow. But nobody got off – we tried our best and were nearly arrested.
“We had an interview with French police because we said we were going to get off regardless but they were threatening to detain us and handcuff us.”
A video of the moment the cruise line told passengers they could not disembark shows them erupting into shouting and chants.
Ms Hann claims the announcement, which she says came as late as 10pm last night, was “on purpose”.
“I think what people felt most aggrieved about is that they didn’t announce it until 10pm last night and they would have known at 5pm when we could have contacted the Foreign Office which we tried to at 10pm,” said Ms Hann.
“But everything is much harder to contact at night. And I feel that Costa did that on purpose but it sort of backfired because there was basically mutiny in the bounty on board.”
The passengers are now calling for the cruise line to “tell them the truth”.
Published at Fri, 20 Mar 2020 00:01:00 +0000