13 Test Positive for COVID-19 Aboard Luxury Cruise Ship
13 people aboard the Ponant cruise ship Le Jacques Cartier have tested positive for COVID-19, and the vessel has suspended her planned itinerary in order to return to port at Marseille.
The outbreak began on October 26 when the vessel arrived at the port of Syracuse, Sicily. Two crewmembers were diagnosed with COVID-19, and the vessel initiated its response procedures.
"We were arriving from Malta . . . and were to disembark in Syracuse, when, without explanation, we were refused access to land. We ended up learning at midday that there were two cases of Covid in the crew. Then, in the evening at dinner, a couple felt the first symptoms and presented themselves to the doctor," a passenger told Le Monde. "Now we are stranded here for ten days by the Italian authorities."
After a period of quarantine, Italian authorities gave Le Jacques Cartier permission to depart port, and the French government will allow her to return to Marseille to disembark her passengers. As of Sunday, she was under way and approaching her destination.
Ponant has instituted a "sail with confidence" strategy to create what it describes as a "hermetic 'COVID-safe' sanitary bubble" for its passengers. Prior to boarding, it requires a health questionnaire and a mandatory PCR test, among other measures.
Le Jacques Cartier is Ponant's newest cruise ship, and was just delivered this July. She has a standard passenger capacity of 180, but is sailing with reduced occupancy as a COVID-19 preventive measure.