Middle East Cruise News

Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas returns to Dubai after passengers develop respiratory symptoms

Abu Dhabi closed its cruise terminal at Port Zayed to cruise ships overnight, turning away Jewel of the Seas, which had departed Dubai yesterday.

Royal Caribbean appeared to have been granted an exemption from the UAE’s new restrictions on cruise ships docking in Dubai and Abu Dhabi when it departed Dubai on its penultimate week-long roundtrip Dubai cruise of the season.

Royal Caribbean had dropped Muscat in Oman as a port of call on the cruise, suggesting that the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority was allowing cruise shipping as long as it the vessels didn’t leave UAE waters.

Jewel of the Seas departed Dubai Tuesday

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That exception was apparently revoked overnight when Jewel of the Seas turned back for Dubai at 10pm. During breakfast at 8am, the captain informed passengers that Abu Dhabi had denied entry and they would be returinbg to Dubai.

At the time of writing, Jewel of the Seas was moored once more at the Dubai Cruise Terminal, it’s not clear if the cruise has been cancelled, or if the cruise line is currently negotiating a new operating procedure with UAE authorities.

There have been reports that two passengers on board have respiratory illnesses, however both have been diagnosed with non-Covid-19 symptoms, it’s not clear if this was the reason for Abu Dhabi’s refusal to allow the ship to dock.

Passengers have reportedly been advised they will receive a full refund regardless of whether the cruise continues or not, and they will receive assistance with their air fares, as well as being able to use the cruise ship as their hotel if it is forced to remain in port.

Royal Caribbean has promised to refund all shore excursions booked for Abu Dhabi, along with a credit for the cruise itself

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The Dubai Health Authority has reportedly ordered additional screening for the ill passengers and will make a decision on whether to allow the ship to sail, or disembark passengers, based on the results.

The disruption to Jewel of the Seas’ cruise schedule comes amid concerns over the vulnerability of cruise ships to Coronavirus, after two Princess cruise ships were struck by the illness, requiring passengers to be quarantined.

There is ongoing confusion over whether roundtrip cruises from Dubai, visiting only UAE ports, are still being allowed.

None of the eight cruise ships homeporting in the Arabian Gulf have stuck to their cruise itineraries, with all either at sea when they’re meant to be in port, or in port in Dubai and Abu Dhabi when they are meant to be in Doha, Muscat or Bahrain.

Mein Schiff 5, Costa Diadema and MSC Bellissima were all at sea at the time of writing, with their AIS information showing Dubai as their intended destination, which is different to their published cruise schedules.

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