The MV Artania began its odyssey on December 21, 2019. The vessel departed from Hamburg, Germany for what was supposed to be a 140-day cruise around the world. Its journey, as originally scheduled, was scheduled to end on May 9, 2020.
In March, however, the coronavirus hit. After a stop in Fremantle, Western Australia, 36 passengers on board the ship tested positive for coronavirus and were quarantined in local hospitals. Two male passengers, one aged 69 and one aged 71, died and a 42-year-old male crew member died later.
Meanwhile, the hundreds of passengers on the vessel, most of whom were German nationals, stayed on-board in quarantine off the Australian coast. Local Perth schoolchildren sent the crew postcards and letters to lift their spirits.
"The cards are written lovingly, sensitively and individually for everyone. It was just heart warming and moving," the ship's captain said in German on Facebook.
At the end of March, the quarantined passengers were able to disembark and return home to Germany on repatriation flights. However, 8 passengers remained on board the vessel, choosing to return home via the ship rather than take a flight back to Germany.
On April 18, the ship's weeks-long journey across the world's oceans resumed. It should have taken just a few weeks to get the vessel back to German but the ship made several stops along the way. These stops were mostly at ports in Southeast Asia and allowed crew members to return to their home countries while the passengers stayed onboard the ship.
About 75 crew members remained with the 8 passengers in order to keep the vessel operating smoothly.
The ship's captain, Morten Hansen, used his Facebook page to keep the passengers' and crews' family members up-to-date on what was happening on the ship. For example, back on May 27, he noted that the vessel was within sight of the Mediterranean Sea and, thus, Europe.
On Monday, the ship finally arrived in the German port of Bremerhaven, its 8 remaining passengers finally home at the end of what may go down in history as one of the strangest sea cruises ever taken.
With MV Artania's arrival in Bremerhaven, the seas are now completely devoid of passengers on commercial cruise vessels. Meanwhile, the cruise industry has effectively ground to a halt, stuck in limbo until the coronavirus pandemic is over and international travel, as well as being in tight quarters, is safe once again.