Two Costa Cruise Ships With COVID-19 Cases Head for Italy


Published Mar 24, 2020 8:44 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Costa Victoria and Costa Luminosa are headed for Italy, the current epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, with known coronavirus cases on board. Other port states have closed their doors, but Italy - where the health care system is already overloaded with COVID-19 cases - is still willing to accept Italian-flagged vessels. 

Last week, Costa Luminosa was allowed to call at Marseille, and French authorities confirmed that there were 36 cases of COVID-19 on board. Hundreds of other passengers were permitted to disembark at Marseille and fly back to their home countries, including 235 U.S. nationals; at least four of these American passengers have tested positive after returning to their homes, according to the Washington Post. 

Other passengers were required to stay on board Costa Luminosa for disembarkation in Savona, Italy. That process began on Saturday and is expected to be complete by Tuesday, according to local outlet Ferpress. About 550 crewmembers should also be disembarked by Wednesday, leaving only 100 asymptomatic seafarers on board. 

On board Costa Victoria, passengers reported Monday that the captain has informed them that one individual with coronavirus had been identified and removed from the ship. All passengers have been quarantined in their staterooms as a precautionary measure. 

The Costa Victoria is currently under way in the Mediterranean, bound for Civitavecchia. Previously, the cruise line had indicated that the Victoria would head for Venice. The selection of Venice as a port of disembarkation drew scrutiny from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: there are more than 200 Australian nationals aboard Costa Victoria, and the office expressed concern "in relation to the suitability of Venice as a port for Australians to disembark at this point in time given the serious issues associated with the impact of coronavirus in that part of Italy."

Costa Victoria also sought to dock in Trieste, but local officials declined. "In this moment of emergency the safety of citizens and workers have the absolute priority and just for this reason the Port System Authority of the Eastern Adriatic Sea, following the provisions of the region, has expressed its opposition to the docking of the Costa Victoria in the port of Trieste," said the governor of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, Massimiliano Fedriga, in a statement Monday.