Published on Tuesday, March 10, 2020
TUI has cancelled all Marella Cruises in Asia and cut short its latest sailing on the Discovery due to the restrictions being placed on cruise ships in the region because of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
In an announcement on social media, the operator said it was trying to arrange to fly all 1,400 Marella Discovery passengers home.
It is understood the operator is attempting to find flights back to the UK from Singapore or Laem Chabang in Thailand, although details have yet to be confirmed.
All further cruises on Discovery will be cancelled until April 9, when the ship is due to sail from Dubai.
TUI said ports in Asia are closing as countries divert medical resources to hospitals and clinics.
Countries that are currently not accepting cruise ships include India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, while Vietnam has tightened its entry requirements, which is making it difficult for cruise ships to operate.
In a tweet, TUI said: "Due to the restrictive measures now in place for cruise ships across Asia we have taken the difficult decision to cancel all Marella Cruises due to sail to the region.
"With Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India no longer accepting cruise ships and other countries making entry requirements that would severely impact our customer's [sic] holidays, we can no longer offer the itineraries people have booked, or offer comparable alternatives.
"We have also decided to curtail the current sailing of Marella Discovery and are working hard to get passengers flights back to the UK.
"We are in contact with all customers affected. All other Marella Cruises continue to operate as usual."
People with elderly relatives on Discovery had earlier expressed concern on Twitter about their welfare. They appeared to be worried after hearing the ship hadn't docked in Vietnam at the weekend as planned, and those onboard didn't appear to be getting updates from TUI.
There was also some criticism that Discovery guests are still being charged for wifi, making hard for them to remain in contact with each other and with family back home.
One person claimed that someone had been airlifted off the ship.