A British couple has revealed how their luxury cruise ship has been affected by a virus outbreak, just days after discovering the ship was being diverted around Africa due to Houthi attacks in the Red Sea cutting off the Mediterranean route. .
Retirees Steven Walker and Mary Symons, both 72, said what was to be the trip of a lifetime aboard the Queen Mary 2 was ruined after they were told halfway through the trip that they were missing important stops.
Instead of sailing through the Suez Canal, with stops in Dubai, Greece and Barcelona, the ship will return to South Africa and Namibia, destinations it has already sailed to.
Walker and Symons described the return as a “real pain and disappointment” and said they have no desire to return to “unsafe” ports after having a phone stolen during their last stopover in Durban.
They said the disruption to shipping routes caused by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been attacking ships in the Red Sea for weeks, means “the notion of carefree global travel is now a nightmare.”
Avid cruisers Steven Walker and Mary Symons, both 72, said what was to be the trip of a lifetime aboard the Queen Mary 2 has been ruined.
The Queen Mary 2 docked in Durban earlier this month. She is scheduled to return to the South African port after being forced to change route.
Pictured: A video showing the hijacking of a transport ship by Houthi rebels in November.
The husband and wife from Dorset, who have been sailing for 20 years, said they will never embark on a world cruise again after their dream holiday became an “endurance test”.
“Repeating what happened in South Africa and Namibia is a real pain and disappointment for all of us who made the full world trip – or so we thought,” they told MailOnline.
“Most ports are not safe, we had a mobile phone stolen on the way out, so we are not very happy to return, where one visit is enough, especially Port Elizabeth in South Africa and Walvis Bay in Namibia, both places where our options They are extremely limited.
They said some of their fellow travelers “intend to abandon the repeat return and fly back to the UK at their own expense.”
In addition to the diversion, the couple said, passengers on the luxury cruise ship faced lockdowns due to a mysterious virus that they said could be affecting up to 300 guests.
They face almost a week of restrictions after a recent outbreak of the disease, they said, and hope to emerge from “partial lockdown” by the end of this week.
While staff were “working tirelessly to keep passengers safe,” they said, the illness, combined with recent news of their ship’s diversion, is “sapping morale.”
The avid cruisers have a social media account documenting their travels with their toy hedgehog and said they are loyal customers of the Cunard cruise line, with this being their fourth voyage with the company.
“Fortunately we made it through the Suez last winter when our cabin mate Horatio Hedgehog posted a video on TikTok of a pirate drill that went viral,” they said.
‘Ironically, it will be the last pirate exercise while Red Sea geopolitics is still in play!’
Their cruise ship is among 12 ships owned by Carnival Corp that have been diverted from the region amid simmering tensions in the Middle East.
The husband and wife from Dorset, who have been sailing for 20 years, said they will never embark on a world cruise again.
The avid cruisers have a social media account documenting their trips with their toy hedgehog Horatio.
Ms. Symons is a Japan and Korea expert and former cruise speaker.
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 was due to return to Southampton after a world tour through the Suez Canal, but will now sail around the southern tip of Africa.
Cunard notified QM2 passengers of the itinerary change by email and over the ship’s loudspeakers.
In addition to reimbursing planned shore experiences for originally scheduled stops, the cruise is offering customers $500 toward expenses as a “goodwill gesture.”
Mr Walker and Ms Symons said that while they understand the diversion is “entirely understandable due to the risks, it is not compensation from companies like Cunard as the refunds are not actual cash as they must be spent on board.” “.
Passengers of the QM2 were required to participate in tours of the ancient city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Visits were also planned to Athens from the historic Greek port of Piraeus, and to Seville, from where the ship was to dock in Cádiz.
The operator says embarkation and disembarkation dates for QM2, based in Southampton, will remain the same.
Ships passing through Yemen have come under frequent attack since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza following the October 7 terrorist attack by the Hamas terrorist group.
About 18 shipping companies, which would normally route their ships traveling from Asia to Europe through the Red Sea and Suez Canal, have responded by diverting their ships around South Africa to avoid the risk posed by the strait.
Passengers had to participate in tours of the ancient city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World (file image)
Guided tours of Athens from the historic Greek port of Piraeus were also planned. File image shows the Parthenon in the Greek capital
But the journey, which takes ships around the Cape of Good Hope, is around 4,000 nautical miles longer than the Suez route, adding an average of nine days to the journey.
Thousands of cruise line passengers from various operators are likely to be affected by the QM2, which carries 2,500 passengers, and the Aracdia, just over 2,000.
Cunard said it was “committed to ensuring the safety and well-being” of its guests and crew.
In a statement, Carnival said the company had made the decision to deviate “given recent events and in close consultation with global security experts and government authorities.”