The Directorate General of Shipping (DG Shipping) has “temporarily” withdrawn the standard operating procedures (SOP) issued in September last year for resumption of domestic cruise operations in Indian waters after many passengers on board a cruise ship in Goa were infected with Covid earlier this week.“Large number of passengers on board the cruise vessel ‘M V Empress’ were detected Covid-19 positive. In view of the same, the vessel ‘M V Empress’ is not to embark fresh passengers on the vessel at Goa and the existing passengers on the vessel are to be disembarked at Mumbai following the specified protocol for dealing with such cases as per the instructions of the health authorities,” the DG Shipping said in a 3 January order.

“In addition, it has been decided that the SOP issued in September 2021 is temporarily withdrawn with immediate effect till further orders,” the DG Shipping wrote in the order.

On 22 September last year, the DG Shipping issued SOP for resumption of domestic cruise in Indian waters. The four-part SOP dealt with instructions for commencement of cruise travel, guidelines to be followed by cruise passengers, operating guidelines for cruise lines as well as seaports. Cruise tourism has been prohibited since 18 March, 2020 following the outbreak of Covid.

M V Empress is a 1,607-passenger ship, operated by an Indian start-up Cordelia Cruises, owned by Waterways Leisure Tourism Private Limited. It was running on the Mumbai-Goa sector.