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Passengers on world cruise expected to disembark after spending weeks without docking

ROME — Passengers on a luxury liner’s around-the-world cruise, begun before the globe was gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, are finally approaching the end of their odyssey after 15 weeks at sea.

Their ship, the Costa Deliziosa, heads to ports in Spain and Italy, two of the countries most devastated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Costa Crociere, an Italian cruise company, said Saturday that the Deliziosa, which set sail from Venice in early January with 1,831 passengers, has reached the western Mediterranean, with no cases of COVID-19 aboard.

The Deliziosa, a nearly 300-metre (1,000-foot) vessel, will disembark 168 Spanish passengers early next week at the port of Barcelona, Spain, the company said. Then the Deliziosa will head to its final destination, Genoa, Italy, where it is expected to disembark the remaining passengers, Italians and those of other nationalities, on Wednesday.

A company spokesman said a passenger left the ship earlier in the week in Marsala, Sicily, for health issues but not because of the coronavirus.

Canadian consular officials say the ship is one of several where citizens remain on board despite the pandemic.

“We continue to monitor 18 Canadian passengers and seven crew on three cruise ships, Costa Deliziosa, Pacific Princess and MSC Magnifica,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Saturday. “Global Affairs Canada is monitoring an additional 85 cruise ships with 299 Canadian crew and no Canadian passengers aboard.”

French authorities had rebuffed a request by Costa for permission to disembark several hundred passengers from France and nearby countries at Marseilles. “The health situation on board the ships, with 1,814 guests and 898 members of the crew, doesn’t present any problem for public health and no case of COVID-19,” Costa’s statement said.

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While people infected with the coronavirus often experience mild or moderate symptoms, possible complications like pneumonia can put their lives at risk.

READ MORE: Booked a cruise and want to cancel? Here’s what you need to know

The Deliziosa was originally due to return to Venice on April 26. After the U.N. World Health Organization pandemic alert in March, the ship, which had just made a port call in Fremantle, western Australia, made only technical and refuelling stops, before the journey back toward the Mediterranean, which took it through the Suez Canal, according to the company.

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