Bad Honnef Katharina Geutebrück and Christoph Hoffmann from Bad Honnef are among the thousands of German holidaymakers who have to break off their holiday due to the corona virus and are flown home earlier than planned. They are waiting for further information in Barbados.
They had been able to take the longed-for annual vacation in a very usual way. The evening before, they had a dinner with family and friends, then they went with their packed suitcases to the airport in Düsseldorf and from there to the Caribbean. In the Dominican Republic the cruise ship was waiting, ahead of the vacationers there was a relaxing time in the tropical island paradise with various stops.
As for countless Germans who are currently still abroad, Corona now, however, stirred up the further holiday plans of Katharina Geutebrück and Christoph Hoffmann. Like thousands of holidaymakers, the entrepreneurial couple from Bad Honnef are being flown home unplanned and prematurely. At the same time, however, their thoughts revolve mainly around their own company and their employees.
"At the moment it's almost business as usual here," Katharina Geutebrück reported to the GA on the phone on Tuesday afternoon of German time - in Barbados, that is, at the best brunch time - to the GA. But it's just almost "business as usual". Because instead of the 2800 passengers who normally find room on the TUI Cruises ship, on Tuesday there were only an estimated 500 to 600. Before Barbados, they were all waiting for further news on their return journey, while the crew did everything possible to make the extremely unusual situation as pleasant as possible for the guests, according to Katharina Geutebrück. "The staff is incredibly friendly and eager," reported the 52-year-old from Bad Honnef.
However, it had already become apparent by the end of the week that the trip would end earlier. "The captain and also the cruise director regularly informed the crew about the changing situation, and always in a very calm and objective manner," Katharina Geutebrück complimented the crew and the cruise director. "On Friday evening, we learned that we were being flown back." But when exactly and above all with which destination airport in Germany this would happen was still not clear on Tuesday.
As reported, TUI had already cancelled package tours and cruises on Monday until further notice and let it be known that hotel operations would also be suspended until then. Due to the crisis, the company has launched an austerity program and is also asking for government aid. At the weekend, Lufthansa had brought back holidaymakers who had booked a round trip or cruise on 17 special flights at short notice. Further return flights followed.
Katharina Geutebrück also attests the organisers goodwill in general. She reported that not only the return flights, but also a replacement for the days of travel not taken had been promised. This even applies as in her case, as the flights for the journey were booked individually.
Almost 300 passengers were disembarked on Tuesday. Guests who should have boarded in the port of Bridgetown were informed in advance by the organiser that they would not be able to start their journey in the first place, said Katharina Geutebrück. On Wednesday, more passengers are to disembark and be flown home - "somewhere to Germany", she said. More information was expected on Tuesday in the course of the day. "It is a pity that the holiday ends so abruptly. But there are worse things," said the 52-year-old.
Yet: The Corona crisis will not spare her own company, which was founded 50 years ago by her father and is now managed by her and her husband Christoph Hoffmann in the second generation, unimpressed. After all, Geutebrück GmbH für Videosicherheit in Windhagen not only maintains business contacts all over the world, but is active and present in more than 70 countries around the globe.
It works closely with partners worldwide and also has its own branches, for example in Malaysia. The economic effects now that "in many countries the total shutdown has occurred" are unavoidable at all levels, said Katharina Geutebrück: "The most important thing at home now will be to see how things continue. The company and the employees have top priority for us."
(Original text: Claudia Sülzen/Translation: Mareike Graepel)