Ipswich-based cruise line pauses departures as 40 self isolate onboard

PUBLISHED: 11:39 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:39 16 March 2020

Passengers on board the Braemar are to be flown back to the UK from Cuba after five tested positive for coronavirus last week. Picture: FRED. OLSEN CRUISE LINES

Passengers on board the Braemar are to be flown back to the UK from Cuba after five tested positive for coronavirus last week. Picture: FRED. OLSEN CRUISE LINES

© Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred. Olsen has paused departures until the end of May as 40 people are now self-isolating aboard a cruise liner in the Caribbean.

The Ipswich-based cruise line said it is working to get people currently onboard their cruises home, but no new cruises would be departing after they have returned.

A statement on the company's website said: 'Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has taken the difficult decision to pause our cruise operations for a period of time, as many other cruise operators have done. This is in light of the recent announcement from the UK government, which advises those aged over 70, or with underlying health issues, not to take cruise holidays.'

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'Along with many other cruise and travel companies, we are facing challenging and unprecedented times in our industry as a result of the ongoing global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

'As more ports across the world close to cruise ships, it is becoming more challenging for us to offer our guests the holiday experience that we promised them.

'The current outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus is also making it increasingly difficult to be able to guarantee the safety of our guests and crew, which is always at the forefront of everything we do.

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'Our priority now is to get all existing guests and crew home as safely and comfortably as possible. Any subsequent itineraries will not go ahead once the current cruises have come to an end.

'It is our intention to resume our cruises on May 23 2020.'

Find all our coronavirus coverage here.

Last week five people aboard the Braemar tested positive for COVID-19 when the boat docked in Curacao. Now 20 passengers and 20 crew have displayed flu-like symptoms and are isolating.

The Braemar is currently anchored 25 miles off Freeport in the Bahamas. It is taking on more supplies and staff - including two more doctors and two more nurses - as the Bahamanian authorities will not let it dock.

The restaurants and bars on board the ship have remained open and passengers have been given free calls and wi-fi to communicate with people at homes, as well as a free all-inclusive drinks package.

Yesterday, captain Jozo Glavic said: 'All our supplies and medications are at the pier in Freeport. They have been there since yesterday. We are still waiting for clearance for delivery. We will not go anywhere until we have the medical staff on board and these supplies arrive.

'I can tell you that our situation continues to be looked at as a matter of the utmost urgency between the UK government and our head office. Until then, please continue to bear with me and my crew.'

Fred Olsen have set up a relative support team for those who have family on board. It is available on +441473 292350 between 8am and 8pm.

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