FOREIGN AFFAIRS – BRITISH CITIZENS ON THE CORAL PRINCESS – 24 March 2020
[Peter Aldous: I commend the Foreign Secretary for his statement. At present, I have constituents stuck in Bali, Peru, New Zealand and on the Coral Princess. May I just highlight a couple of issues? Commercial flights in New Zealand are currently collapsing like a stack of dominoes. With the Coral Princess currently docked in Rio, it also looks as if my constituents will not be able to disembark and will be on that ship for another two and a half weeks.
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State (Dominic Raab): I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. I have addressed the situation in New Zealand at some length. We are of course looking at that as a matter of urgency. The big thing for getting people back from Australia and New Zealand is going to be the international hubs; I hope that he has been reassured by the reassurances that I secured from the Singaporean Foreign Minister first thing this morning. My hon. Friend also asked about the Coral Princess cruise ship. Our embassy in Brasilia is working with the Ministry there and the cruise operator to secure permission for the ship to dock at Rio in order to take advantage of the onward flights available to London. Some British nationals have already got places on board confirmed flights. We are doing as much as we can logistically to support them, and to get them and the other nationals home.]
Dr Julian Lewis: Following the question from my hon. Friend the Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) about the Coral Princess, may I urge the Foreign Secretary to check on what is happening with this vessel? The information that I had from Ken and Doreen Hodge on board is that they are heading for Fort Lauderdale in the US, and they fear that they may then be required to stay for 14 days in isolation before coming home. Will he make a particular point of checking what is happening to the Coral Princess and the people on board?
[Dominic Raab: I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. I think that I have described the latest data that I have, but, of course, we are tracking the cruise ship in real time. It has been a challenge on that bit of coastline and, indeed, in that region, to get onward flights and to get permission to dock in order to take advantage of them. None the less, we are tracking the situation. I track the cruise ships in real time every day. I can also reassure the House that we have changed the travel advice on cruise ships, and my understanding is that no further cruise ships are setting sail, so we are dealing with the stock that is at sea and making sure that we do everything we can to get everyone home. I have already explained the success that we had with the Braemar, the Azura, and the Norwegian Spirit. We are looking to do the same for those on the Coral Princess.]