TUI Cruises ship docks in Greece after coronavirus scare: 'Possible false alarm'

The Mein Schiff 6 departed Crete on Sunday with 922 passengers

This isn’t smooth sailing.

A group of cruise ship crew members currently at sea on a TUI Cruises vessel have tested negative for the coronavirus twice, after initially testing positive for the viral disease.

The Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship is docked at Piraeus port, near Athens on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Greek authorities say 12 crew members on a Maltese-flagged cruise ship carrying more than 1,500 people on a Greek islands tour have tested positive for coronavirus and have been isolated on board. (Dimitris Lampropoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship is docked at Piraeus port, near Athens on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Greek authorities say 12 crew members on a Maltese-flagged cruise ship carrying more than 1,500 people on a Greek islands tour have tested positive for coronavirus and have been isolated on board. (Dimitris Lampropoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Mein Schiff 6 departed Heraklion in Crete on Sunday, with 922 passengers aboard for a cruise of the Greek islands, Reuters reports.

As part of the company's COVID-19 precautions, 150 of the ship’s 666 crew members took “sample tests” for the coronavirus, in a trial organized by a lab on the shore. Twelve crew members were found to be positive but asymptomatic, according to the Associated Press.

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The Mein Schiff 6 has since docked in Piraeus, the biggest port in Greece, where access to healthcare services is more readily available.

A passenger of the Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship stands outside her cabin as the ship is docked at Piraeus port, near Athens on Tuesday, Sept. 29. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

A passenger of the Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship stands outside her cabin as the ship is docked at Piraeus port, near Athens on Tuesday, Sept. 29. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

After receiving the test results, the 12 crew members who tested positive, as well as 24 other workers whom they had been in contact with, began immediately isolating on Monday, USA Today reports. The group of 24 workers each took a rapid antigen test, and all reportedly returned negative.

According to the outlet, by Tuesday morning, all 12 crew members who had initially tested positive for COVID-19 had tested negative for it twice. The negative tests results came from a PCR test by TUI Cruises, and a rapid antigen test by Greek authorities.

Ambulance waiting outside the Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship as is docked at Piraeus port on Sept. 29. (Dimitris Lampropoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Ambulance waiting outside the Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship as is docked at Piraeus port on Sept. 29. (Dimitris Lampropoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Reuters called the scare “a possible false alarm,” though officials are waiting back on the results of a fourth test to compare the findings.

"We are now waiting for the results of the PCR tests ran by the Greek authorities," Godja Sönnichsen, TUI Cruises director of communications, told the outlet. Sönnichsen said that the results should arrive by Tuesday afternoon or evening, local time.

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Passengers of the Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship stand outside their cabins as the ship is docked at Piraeus port, near Athens on Sept. 29. (Dimitris Lampropoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Passengers of the Mein Schiff 6 cruise ship stand outside their cabins as the ship is docked at Piraeus port, near Athens on Sept. 29. (Dimitris Lampropoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

All of the cruise line’s crew members are tested for COVID-19 before boarding, and isolate for two weeks on the vessel before they can start working, she added.

"In the course of the early warning system, the crew on board is furthermore regularly tested for COVID-19," Sönnichsen said.

A National Public Health Organization team was set to respond to the Mein Schiff 6’s arrival in Piraeus on Tuesday, with officials ready to retest the 12 workers who initially tested positive and “anyone else deemed necessary” by the ship’s crew and doctor, according to USA Today.

All passengers had taken coronavirus tests before boarding, the Associated Press reports.

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"Thanks to the extensive hygiene measures and clearance rules on board, there is no reason for guests and crew to worry," Sönnichsen stressed.

The Mein Schiff 6 was set to sail to Piraeus, Athens, and later to the western island of Corfu. Pending the approval of local authorities, TUI hopes to continue the trip as planned. A shore excursion in Piraeus had been tentatively rescheduled for Wednesday, said the outlet.

The cruise line was contacted for further comment.

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Earlier this year, hundreds of people fell ill on crowded cruise ships before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s no-sail order took effect. Fourteen passengers died following an outbreak aboard Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess, quarantined off the coast of Japan in February.

In the following months, the cruising industry has furloughed thousands of workers and received billions in bank loans to keep afloat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.