Bonn For two weeks the more than 800 passengers on the cruise ship MS Artania were stuck off the Australian coast because of the Corona virus. Also on board were maths world champion Gert Mittring and Petra Larssen from Bonn.
For two weeks the passengers on the cruise ship MS Artania were stranded off the Australian coast because of the corona virus. Also on board were maths world champion Gert Mittring and Petra Larssen. Both are now back in their home town of Bonn and are in quarantine. "It was a difficult time," says Larssen. However, there were also nice moments, which were mainly thanks to the Bonn tour operator Phoenix.“
Actually, the South Sea cruise was to go from Sydney to Tahiti. But already on landing in Australia it was clear that the trip would not go as planned. "We were told that many ports could no longer be served," says Larssen. An alternative route was offered to go as far as Bremerhaven. "We thought that was a good idea because at that time it was assumed there would be no coronavirus-infected ship." But this turned out to be a fallacy, shortly afterwards 23 guests and 13 crew members were infected. More than 800 passengers were on board - a simple departure was now impossible. Instead, they went from Sydney in the east of the continent to western Fremantle near Perth. "This transfer, which lasted several days, was still pleasant in part because we were able to move freely on the ship," says Mittring. In this "extraordinary situation", as Mittring describes it, he gave lectures to entertain the other vacationers. "The memory training was well received.“
But when they arrived at the port, everything changed suddenly - it was clear that people on board were also infected. There was no buffet any more, food was eaten in the cabins. "We could order food, but that only worked moderately," says Larssen. On one day, for example, only fruit was served. In order to always be informed about the current situation in the world, Captain Morten Hansen regularly gave speeches that were broadcast on television. "And there was free internet and free drinks."
What caused discomfort was the situation outside the ship. Paparazzi circled around the Artania in boats, which was finally allowed to dock in the harbour. "We had two seriously ill people on board who needed treatment, but not for the Corona virus," Larssen says. To make sure no one else got off, Australian helicopters and drones monitored the ship. "The Australians communicated that we had to leave the port again as soon as possible. That wasn't a good feeling," says Larssen, who shows great understanding for the situation. Nevertheless: "The worst thing was this uncertainty. Just the last week was really dramatic."
On March 25th, the relieving news arrived: tour operator Phoenix, German and Australian authorities had drawn up a plan to fly the holidaymakers out by March 29th. This was unusual: other ships anchored there were not allowed to do so. "We are very grateful for this effort," says Mittring. Four Condor machines took the ship's complement back to Frankfurt via Phuket. At the same time, there was information that a letter would soon be received regarding reimbursable costs. "In a crisis like this, you realise what makes a good tour operator. It may not be the cheapest, but it puts the guests first.“
(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach / Translation: Mareike Graepel)