6 April 2020






2 mins

An elderly Maltese couple on an aborted cruise was allowed to return to their home country at Malta after the intervention of the Prime Minister. The couple had appealed to the Public Health Superintendent Profs. Charmaine Gauci to reconsider her position after refusing them permission to disembark in Malta after they wrote an open letter. Prime Minister Dr. Robert Abela and transport minister Ian Borg intervened in the case, due to humanitarian grounds.

The couple Marthese Bonello and Joseph Mercieca both 70, are not infected by the coronavirus but fear that the extended voyage to England, where they would then have to get a repatriation flight home will put them at greater risk of contracting the virus. Apart from their age both suffer from respiratory and cardiac conditions that risk giving them health complications if they contract the coronavirus.

Cruise liner COLUMBUS received instructions from Valletta VTS at 0951 hrs that she has to proceed to 12 nautical miles east off Valletta and stay drifting outside territorial waters awaiting the Conveyance boat.

COLUMBUS at 0915 hrs

At 1141 hrs the 2011 built 14.69m pilot boat FOXTROT left Valletta bound to the liner after receiving instructions from Transport Malta Personnel.

The couple boarded the cruise liner COLUMBUS last 25th February at Sydney in Australia but on the 14th March, the operator aborted the cruise and the ship was ordered to make a non stop voyage back to the port of Tilbury,UK.

At 1227 hrs COLUMBUS dropped port anchor.

At 1248 hrs FOXTROT was alongside the liner with starboard side pilot door open to start disembarking operation of the couple and was completed at 1308 hrs with eta to Valletta at 1400 hrs.

The couple will disembark at Wine Wharf, part of Valletta Cruise Port and will be checked by Immigration Police and a medical team and will go into a quarantine.

After conveyance operation of the disembarking couple, COLUMBUS will be bunkered by Go Fuels tanker VANNA and on completion she will continue her voyage.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) in Malta is represented by SMS Shipping –

Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos –

Published – Monday 6th April, 2020

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