Cruise ships are returning to Japan three years after the start of a global pandemic

By Low De Wei (Bloomberg) —

Three years later, international cruise ships are returning to Japan diamond princess became the first luxury ship in the world to face a major Covid outbreak.

amadeusoperated by Germany-based Phoenix Reisen is now anchored in Tokyo Bay, having previously arrived at a port in western Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture, according to shipping data tracked by Bloomberg.

The outbreak at Carnival Corp diamond princess, which docked on the country’s coasts in February 2020, drew global attention to the risk of infection on board seagoing vessels. At one point, the ship outside had the most cases Mainland Chinawhere the virus originated.

A months-long saga finally ensued after the ship went into quarantine off the country’s shores, with about a fifth of the 3,711 passengers aboard the luxury ship infected and 12 dead. This crisis also heralded a more widespread shutdown of the industry during the pandemic. Japanese authorities have been criticized by some infectious disease experts for failing to contain the spread of the virus, as people were quarantined on the ship without proper ventilation.

Since then, the country has joined other nations around the world in removing pandemic restrictions, easing travel restrictions last October. Meanwhile, major cruise lines like Royal Caribbean have also seen bookings recover.

The nation has braced itself to welcome back cruise ships, which brought more than 2 million people to Japan in 2019.

As an indication of a change in attitude, there was much fanfare from the crew members and the predominantly German passengers on board the Amadea. Local authorities organized a drumming performance to entertain guests and unfurled the local mascot, a blue dinosaur named “Shizulla,” to greet them.

Fireworks were set off as the ship continued its journey to Tokyo. “More cruise ships are coming in the future,” the mascot’s Twitter account said.

–With support from Marika Katanuma.

© 2023 Bloomberg LP

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