Two Cruise & Maritime Voyages vessels, Columbus and Vasco da Gama, have rendezvoused 12 nautical miles off the coast of Phuket, Thailand to undertake a unique passenger transfer and repatriation operation involving 239 passengers.
Despite representations and last-ditch mercy pleas to the Thai Authorities, the Port of Phuket remained closed to cruise ships along with all other ports in South East Asia and the wider Indian sub-continent rendering an air repatriation not an option. Permission had however been granted by the local Port Authorities to take on provisions and bunkers off the coast of Phuket before the ships’ onward voyages.
Columbus was operating a four month Round the World cruise carrying 1020 passengers before her voyage curtailment in Semarang (Indonesia) while Vasco da Gama was operating a Northbound voyage from Fremantle and Singapore via the Suez Canal to Tilbury carrying 839 passengers before her voyage curtailment.
This unique repatriation operation was a huge logistical challenge for the ships’ officers and crew involving the transfer of over 500 pieces of luggage, 239 passengers and the transfer of provisions all undertaken by tender.
Christian Verhounig, Chief Executive at Cruise & Maritime Voyages said, “We are tremendously proud of our onboard and shoreside teams for their fantastic job in delivering this safe and effective evacuation and relief operation. On behalf of the directors, staff and especially our hard-working crew CMV would like to thank all our current passengers for their support, patience and understanding during this repatriation operation.”
Columbus is now undertaking a 7842 nautical mile voyage directly back to the UK with 907 passengers including 602 British nationals and 619 crew members onboard. The voyage includes a technical call in Colombo, Sri Lanka then via the Suez Canal with a final technical call before arriving back in Tilbury on April 13.
Vasco da Gama is now undertaking a 2837 nautical mile voyage directly back to Australia with 952 passengers including 907 Australian & New Zealander nationals and 552 crew members onboard arriving back in Fremantle (Perth) on March 27.