While most of us here in America were still asleep, MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato took the podium at a press conference in Italy to reveal the details for the cruise line’s comprehensive health and safety protocol as their restart of operations in the Mediterranean draws near.
MSC Cruises is planning to resume cruising in the Mediterranean in mid-August with two ships: MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica. All Caribbean cruises through September 30, 2020 have already been cancelled.
The cruise line release the video below along with a detailed list of their new protocols, partnerships and onboard procedures to the media.
From the press release:
Combining new data and research into COVID-19, an improved understanding of the virus and how it behaves with the latest technology in screening and protecting people from possible contagion, the new operating protocol is designed to prevent and mitigate the risk of transmission during an MSC Cruises’ vacation.
For the cruises first to sail in August, MSC is providing MSC for Me wristbands to all passengers which allow for contactless transactions around the ship and proximity tracing in an emergency. Passengers will have access to all safety requirements and new protocols on the cruise line’s MSC For Me app. The app is also a tool for use around the ship booking services and learning the daily activities.
MSC Grandiosa has scheduled 7-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean while MSC Magnifica will cruise in the East Mediterranean. Itineraries will call on Greece and Malta.
Health and Safety Measures
MSC worked with a number of professional organizations to help develop their plan. The list is long: Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation, Hotel Services, HVAC and Shipboard Engineering Systems, Information Technology and Logistics companies. They also started a COVID Expert Group of international expert consultants which functions as an oversight panel for the new protocols and procedures.
The new procedures include universal screenings of all passengers and crew. These screenings involve a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test. Guests are subject to secondary testing per their travel history. Social distancing will be enforced at all times. As a result, the ship will sail at only 70% capacity. Bars, restaurants, lounges, entertainment venues, gyms and spas will adhere to social distancing with reduced capacity.
The cruise line is making upgrades to their cleaning regiment like the use of strong disinfectant products and UV lights to kill germs. They’ve also upgraded medical facilities and staff on board to facilitate testing and if needed, isolation.
Daily temperature checks are required after leaving on a shore excursion. Excursions are limited to MSC Cruises operated only as an extra safety precaution and the same social distancing and hygiene protocols from onboard the ship are in effect at all times.
Guests will be asked to wear masks when social distancing is not possible. Masks will be provided by the cruise line in staterooms and elsewhere around the ship.
INFOGRAPHIC: MSC Cruises Health & Safety Measure Fact Sheet
The press release also detailed a plan for cruisers not only should they fall ill prior to sailing, but after as well. The MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan protects guests in either scenario and is intended to add some peace of mind to those on the fence about booking a cruise vacation.
What Can American Cruisers Expect?
Per their press release this morning, they are not the ones making the decisions:
In the U.S., MSC Cruises’ ships will only return to service once the necessary approvals have been received from the relevant local and national authorities, including the CDC, as well as across the regions where the ships will operate.
More cruises sailing safely in Europe could possibly help sway some minds in America that it can be done safely here. What do you think? Let us know!