An Empty Cruise Ship in Switzerland Is Getting a Second Life As a Vaccination Center

Switzerland is turning a 500-passenger cruise ship into a floating vaccine distribution center able to vaccinate dozens of people every hour.

The MS Thurgau had previously been used to ferry people across Lake Constance between cities on the Swiss and German side, but was sidelined due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it has been retrofitted to include two shot stations able to vaccinate 24 people each hour with the possibility to later expand, Reuters reported.

"I've heard of a fondue ship, and a spaghetti ship, but this is my first shot ship," Switzerland's Health Minister Alain Berset told Reuters this week.

The 89-year-old ship will start in Romanshorn before then traveling the length of the lake —the third largest in Europe — hitting the towns of Kreuzlingen and Arbon along the way before returning to deliver second shots. Initially, the program is scheduled to run for 12 weeks.

The ship, which locals have nicknamed "vaccine vaporetto," contains only Moderna vaccines, chosen due to the relative ease of preparing the company's 10-dose vials on the cramped ship, Reuters noted.

"We wanted to figure out just how we could vaccinate as many people as possible, with as few vaccination centres as were necessary," Urs Martin, a local elected official, told the wire service.

Those who were vaccinated on the pleasure cruiser were treated to a view of the lake itself, sitting in front of dark wood paneling and large windows normally reserved to take in the scenery. Rows and rows of hand sanitizer and other medical supplies had been set up along installed shelving.

The ship isn't the only unusual space to be turned into a vaccination hub. Reuters noted spots have included an 800-year-old cathedral in Britain, the airport in Singapore, Disneyland in California, an ice stadium in Berlin, and baseball stadiums.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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