Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises have cancelled the next two cruises aboard their Dubai-based ships Costa Firenze and AIDAbella.
Costa Firenze was meant to depart the Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal on Saturday evening, while AIDAbella was meant to depart Sunday, both on week long roundtrip cruises in the Arabian Gulf.
Instead, both vessels are now at anchor in the Dubai Port Anchorage, around 5 nautical miles off Port Rashid, where the city’s second cruise terminal, Dubai Cruise Terminal, is located.
In a statement, Costa Cruises indicated that the cancellations were due to the ongoing pandemic, without providing further detail.
The cruise line said it wanted to be able to offer its guests the best possible standards of service, experience and safety, and hence had cancelled the cruise.
“Given the overall pandemic scenario, and in order to offer the best possible standard of service, experience and safety to its guests, Costa Cruises has decided to pause cruise operations for Costa Firenze in the UAE from January 22 to February 4th,” a spokesperson told Cruise Arabia & Africa.
“Costa Firenze’s operations will resume from February 5th.The company is informing all guests impacted by the decision. The health, safety and wellbeing of our guests, crew members and the communities we visit is our responsibility and top priority,” the statement added.
These kinds of statements have previously been understood to be code for service disruptions due to critical crew having either fallen ill with, or been exposed to, COVID-19 infection.
A passenger was airlifted from Costa Firenze during her last cruise, and the two week pause in operations is consistent with the 10-day isolation period mandated by the Dubai Health Authority for those who contract COVID-19.
However, there is no indication of a link between the two events, and COVID infection has not been confirmed by either Costa or AIDA, or the Dubai Health Authority.
Costa Firenze and AIDAbella are now expected to resume operations from Dubai on February 5th, meaning they will skip two cruises in January.
All affected customers have reportedly been given the option of a future cruise credit or a cash refund on their impacted sailing.
The cancellation of Costa Firenze’s next two sailings means that Costa Cruises currently has only two ships in operation, Costa Deliziosa in the Caribbean and Costa Luminosa in the Mediterranean.
Costa had resumed cruises in Brazil last year, but in late December Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) suspended the operations of Costa Diadema after 68 people onboard caught COVID-19.
The cancellation of Costa Firenze and AIDAbella’s cruises from Dubai until the beginning of February brings the total number of cruise ships in lay-up in Dubai to six.
During the pandemic, Port Rashid has emerged as a key holding area for cruise lines looking to dock their ships for crew services and technical support.
At some points, DP World has been looking after seven ships at a time, especially during the height of the shutdown of the cruise industry last year.
At present, Costa Firenze, AIDAbella, Norwegian Jade, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Splendor, and Le Jacques Cartier are all waiting out their pause in operations in Dubai.
Carnival Splendor and Spirit have been using Carnival Corporation’s new Dubai Harbour Cruise Terminal, where all Carnival ships enjoy exclusive docking rights, while the rest have been serviced by DP World at Port Rashid.