On March 13, 2020, our first and for the time being last liveaboard started in Europe after the outbreak of COVID-19. In the beginning, the topic was probably taken too lightly! We were also firmly convinced that Europe would get the Corona problem under control very quickly. Unfortunately, it turned out completely differently than expected. On March 19, 2020, the President of the country of Egypt announced that he would initially close the airports for 14 days. This meant that our guests were now stranded on board with us! How are they supposed to get home? Which flight? Which airport? We were faced with a completely new situation which, thanks to the embassy and a lot of commitment from our dear Teresa (Teresa Schäfer travel agency), we were able to get under control very quickly and our guests were able to fly home safe and sound. After that we faced a completely new challenge: WHAT NOW??!??
A wave of cancellations overran our e-mail inbox. Even the phone hardly stood still. For three days we worked day and night trying to get new information, to distinguish false news from fake news, to reassure the guests and to process the cancellations. Very quickly it became clear that this resulting chaos would not pass us by anytime soon.
New decisions were then made every day over a very short period of time. First schools and kindergartens were closed, then the airports, curfews were imposed, then retail was paralyzed and only supermarkets and hospitals as well as pharmacies and bakers are currently authorized to work.
It was clear to us that this could be the beginning of the end. So we had to make quick decisions without further ado. The first decision was to send the crew on unpaid leave indefinitely. This decision was not easy for us, but in the end the most important thing for us was to protect the ships against bankruptcy for the time being. Admira just came freshly renovated from the dry dock. SeaFriend is still in dry dock in Safaga. All work on the ships has been halted with immediate effect. This was followed by talks with banks and investors. Loan payments were no longer possible overnight. In just a few days, our account was almost completely frozen. The incoming payments stopped and since then we have remained in a spooky situation. Financially we were able to secure our company for the next 6 months. The ships are now running on a kind of “emergency supply” and we are trying to keep the overall costs here on site as low as possible.
In diesem Zuge gilt vorerst ein ganz besonderer Dank an unsere Gäste! Dank Euch hätten wir den Mut sehr schnell verloren! Sehr viele Gäste haben ihre gebuchten Touren auf neue Daten umgebucht. Die weiteren Gäste, die leider noch zu keiner absehbaren Zeit umbuchen konnten, haben wir mit Gutscheinen versorgt, die zum einen übertragbar sind und zum anderen eine Gültigkeit von 3 Jahren besitzen. Hätten wir die gesamten ausgefallenen Touren auszahlen müssen, dann wären wir bereits jetzt insolvent.
We were in a very positive mood for 2020. Egypt was finally getting back on its feet and for us the “Boot” trade fair in Düsseldorf at the beginning of the year was a complete success. For the first time since the beginning of our career as Hamata Mangroves, we had the feeling that THIS was going to be OUR year… well, less than 8 weeks later it was completely different and we were about to lose everything! The investments had just been made and the ships were being refurbished and ready for the season again. We had just finished the off-season without touring and were full of anticipation for the start of the new season.
Now it seems uncertain when the tours will continue at all 🙁