AIDA OPENS CRUISE SEASON WITH BALTIC TOUR FROM KIEL
Germany's embattled cruise ship industry is preparing to resume operations after a long break due to the pandemic, with a first vessel setting sail from Kiel on Saturday, May 22, 2021, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.
The Aidasol, run by Aida Cruises, was fully booked with 900 passengers on board for a tour of the Baltic in the first trip of the season. Tui Cruises was due to follow with Mein Schiff 1 setting sail on Sunday.
Passengers will remain onboard during both trips, and will not go ashore. The voyages see the cruise ship industry attempt to make a fresh start following the initial outbreak of the pandemic, and a brief attempt to offer trips last summer before tougher restrictions were imposed in autumn.
The industry is able to restart thanks to the low case numbers in the coastal state of Schleswig-Holstein - the lowest nationwide for some time.
The state government reopened tourism in mid-May, accompanied by strict regulations.
"Maritime tourism is highly important for the region's economy and gives people back some freedom," said Kiel port managing director Dirk Claus.
As the industry resumes activity, strict health and safety regulations are in place, applying to crew and passengers alike. Only around half the usual number of passengers are allowed.
Testing for COVID-19 is compulsory, and people must wear masks and maintain social distancing on board. At mealtimes, rather than lining up at the buffet, as in earlier times, guests are served at their tables. Special protocols apply if someone is infected with the virus, to isolate them in order to prevent an outbreak, alongside contact tracing measures.
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