Cruise and coronavirus under the spotlight in new documentary


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The plight of the cruise industry in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic will be examined in a television documentary to be shown this week.

The outbreak of coronavirus brought cruising – as well as the wider travel industry – to a dramatic standstill in early 2020.

While other areas of tourism slowly return, with an announcement on air bridges this week and domestic travel relaxed further from July 4, cruise remains largely in a state of uncertainty. Only a handful of river cruises have resumed sailing in Europe and just two lines, Hurtigruten and SeaDream Yacht Club, are operating ocean cruises.

None of those cruises currently running are for British travellers, and instead are for the nationalities of each home port with no overseas stops. Cruise lines continue to push back their restart date until later in 2020 and, in some cases, into 2021.

According to ITV, who are broadcasting the documentary on July 2, the cruise industry “has sky-rocketed to a more than £100 billion business in the last few years with 30 million people taking to the seas in 2019.

“Now, in a short space of time, this travel industry heavyweight has been brought to its knees. For the first time in history, the whole of the cruising industry has ground to a halt with ships and passengers stranded at sea, rows of liners moored in ports with nowhere to go and routes cancelled.”

Ian and Morven Rae, a British couple who feature in the documentary, were among those stuck at sea earlier this year

Ian and Morven Rae, a British couple who feature in the documentary, were among those stuck at sea earlier this year

Among those featured on the programme are Ian and Morvin Rae, who were among 229 British passengers onboard Holland America Line’s Zaandam on a cruise around South America as the virus spread across the world.

They spoke to The Telegraph at the end of March and described how “due to higher than usual incidence of coughs and respiratory problems” they had to be confined to their cabins.

Despite the situation they found themselves in, the couple said they “can’t speak highly enough” of their treatment.

One cruise insider, who asked not to be named, told Telegraph Travel that they feared a documentary like this could “paint cruising in an unfairly negative light” and may come across as “scaremongering”.

According to ITV, the show will “explore the role of cruise ships and in the spread of the virus and ask if the well-being of passengers and crew was always put first” with “personal insights from passengers onboard ships living through the unfolding crisis along with renowned experts”.

Billion Pound Cruises: All At Sea is on ITV at 9pm on Thursday, July 2

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