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Our world cruise nightmare: Brits trapped on luxury ship hit by virus outbreak discover they are returning to Africa – despite getting MUGGED on earlier visit – as Houthi attacks cut off Mediterranean


British tourists have revealed how their luxury cruise has been plagued by a virus outbreak – just days after they discovered the ship was being rerouted around Africa because of Houthi attacks in the Red Sea cutting off the Mediterranean route.

The passengers, who asked not to be named, said that what was meant to be the trip of a lifetime aboard the Queen Mary 2 has been ruined after they were told mid-way through their voyage that they were missing out on major stops.

Instead of sailing through the Suez Canal, with stops including Dubai, Greece and Barcelona, the ship will be going back to South Africa and Namibia – destinations it has already sailed to.

They described the return as a ‘real pain and disappointment’, and said they have no desire to return to ‘unsafe’ ports after they had a phone stolen during their last stop in Durban.

They said that the disruption to sailing routes caused by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have been attacking ships in the Red Sea for weeks, means ‘the notion of a carefree world journey is now a nightmare’.

The Queen Mary 2, docked in Durban earlier this month. It is set to return to the South African port after it was forced to re-route

The Queen Mary 2, docked in Durban earlier this month. It is set to return to the South African port after it was forced to re-route

Pictured: A video showing the hijacking of a shipping vessel by Houthi Rebels in November

Pictured: A video showing the hijacking of a shipping vessel by Houthi Rebels in November

The experienced cruisers said they will now never embark on a world cruise again after their dream holiday turned into a ‘test of endurance’. 

‘A repeat of South Africa and Namibia is a real pain and disappointment for all of us doing the full – or so we thought – world voyage,’ they told MailOnline.

‘Most of the ports are unsafe, we’ve had a mobile phone stolen on the way out so are not relishing a return where one visit is quite enough especially Port Elizabeth in South Africa and Walvis Bay in Namibia, both places where our options are extremely limited.’

They said that some of their fellow passengers ‘are intending to abandon the repeated return and fly back to the UK at their own expense’. 

As well as the diversion, they said, passengers on the luxury cruise have faced lockdowns due to a mystery virus, which they said could be affecting as many as 300 guests.

They are facing almost a week of restrictions after a recent outbreak of the illness, they said, and are hoping to be out of the ‘partial lockdown’ by the end of this week.

While staff were ‘working tirelessly to keep passengers safe’, they added, the sickness, combined with recent news of their ship being diverted, is ‘sapping morale’.

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 was due to return to Southampton from world tours via the Suez Canal, but will now sail around the southern tip of Africa

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 was due to return to Southampton from world tours via the Suez Canal, but will now sail around the southern tip of Africa

‘The ship’s company are working so very hard everywhere to control the situation but sadly it’s still with us,’ they said, adding that passengers are being updated daily and advised that the situation is improving.

The cruise is among 12 of ships owned by Carnival Corp which have been diverted away from the region amid simmering tensions in the Middle East. 

Cunard notified QM2 passengers of the itinerary change via email and over loud speakers on the ship.

As well as refunding on-shore experiences planned for the originally scheduled stops, the cruise is offering customers $500 spending money as a ‘gesture of goodwill’.

The Brits said that while they understand the diversion is ‘totally understandable due to the risks, it is no compensation from companies like Cunard as the refunds are not real cash as they have to be spent on board.’

QM2’s original stops via the Red Sea route 

Doha, Qatar 

Dubai, UAE 

Salalah, Oman

 Petra, Jordan

Athens, Greece

Barcelona, Spain

Seville, Spain 

QM2’s new stops – avoiding the Red Sea 

Port Louis, Mauritius

Durban, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Walvis Bay, Namibia

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

 Lisbon, Portugal

QM2 passengers had been due to take part in tours around the ancient city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Tours were also planned of Athens from the historic Greek port of Piraeus, and of Seville from where the ship was due to dock in Cadiz.

The operator says the embarkation and disembarkation dates for the QM2, which is based in Southampton, will remain the same.

Vessels passing Yemen have come under frequent assault since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza following the October 7 terror attack by the Hamas terror group.

Around 18 shipping companies – that would typically route their ships travelling from Asia to Europe through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal – have responded by rerouting their vessels around South Africa to avoid the risk posed in the strait.

Passengers had been due to take part in tours around the ancient city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World (file image)

Passengers had been due to take part in tours around the ancient city of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World (file image)

Tours were also planned of Athens from the historic Greek port of Piraeus. File image shows the Parthenon in the Greek capital

Tours were also planned of Athens from the historic Greek port of Piraeus. 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, adds an average of nine days to the trip.

Thousands of cruise line passengers across a number of operators are likely to be affected by the  with the QM2 carrying 2,500 passengers and Aracdia carrying 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 reroute ‘given recent developments and in close consultation with global security experts and government authorities.’ 



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