Port of Cork insists vessel had clean bill of health before hundreds of tourists disembarked
Friday, March 13, 2020 - 12:10 PM
Port authorities have insisted that the first large cruise ship of the season which brought hundreds of tourists to Cork today had a clean bill of health.
The Port of Cork said all relevant checks were conducted before the MV Saga Sapphire berthed last night in Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal, on route from Dublin Port where the vessel had been for two days.
Its passengers boarded coaches this morning for a range of short excursions around the region, including to Blarney Castle.
Concerns had been expressed in Cobh, where cruise ships normally berth, and in Ringaskiddy, about the ship's arrival.
However, the port authorities said cruise ship tourism offers no higher risks compared to tourists visiting via airports or public transport.
The spokesperson said however that port authorities are constantly monitoring what is a quickly evolving situation both at a national level, and globally as cruise ship operators make their own decisions in relation to their operations.
The Port said the Ringaskiddy Ferry Terminal has been fully sanitised and is equipped to handle a vessel the size of the Saga Sapphire.
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"The Port of Cork continues to follow all necessary guidelines from the HSE and will ensure that all vessels and agents must complete the Maritime Declaration of Health (MDoH) to SafeSeas Ireland (SSI)," the spokesperson said.
The port has also implemented a range of other measures, including:
- passenger details of those joining cruise ships in the Port of Cork must be notified to Port Health and the Port Authority prior to arrival;
- local tourism ambassadors are not boarding the vessels arriving in Cork. Tourism information will be emailed to the vessel directly;
- the Port is insisting that all vessels should have an adequate supply of hand sanitizer for passengers and crew at the gangways;
- and all vessels have been told to display Covid-19 information in public areas of the ship;
Passengers have also been advised to disembark promptly and proceed to their coaches, where sanitisation measures are also in place, and all but essential ship visits have been stopped.
"The Port of Cork is keenly aware of public concern over the Covid-19 and while all cruise lines and their passengers will be welcomed to Cork, the Port is also following advice from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the leading voice of the global cruise industry, on the adoption of additional enhanced screening measures in response to Covid-19," the spokesperson said.
The vessel departed around lunchtime yesterday. The Port of Cork is due to welcome its next big cruise liner on March 23 from Spain - where the Covid-19 virus has begun spreading.