A family of five has fallen victim to the tough new rules to safeguard the first big ship cruises in Europe, after being kicked off the MSC Grandiosa’s first sailing.
In what looks like a precursor to the kind of no-excuses regulations needed to safeguard other passengers, the family received their marching orders after they separated from their official MSC shore excursion.
Breaking away from official groups is a breach of one of the line’s new coronavirus-related health and safety rules.
The passengers had joined an MSC shore excursion on Tuesday to tour the Italian city of Naples but broke away to explore on their own, according to the line.
MSC’s new health and safety rules outline that passengers are not allowed to get off in ports unless they are on an official MSC Cruises organised shore excursion with a guide, and they must be accompanied at all times. They are not allowed to stray from the group.
The rule is designed to limit interaction between passengers and locals of the town, which the line says will help prevent guests from bringing COVID-19 back on the ship after port visits. It is also designed to protect the locals from passengers spreading the illness while touring.
“In line with our health and safety protocol, developed to ensure health and wellbeing of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, we had to deny re-embarkation to a family who broke from their shore excursion yesterday,” MSC Cruises said in a statement.
“By departing from the organised shore excursion, this family broke from the “social bubble” created for them and all other guests, and therefore could not be permitted to re-board the ship.”
The line also said that as part of their protocols, the buses used for the tours are sanitised and the bus drivers and tour guides all undergo health screenings and wear personal protective equipment. The line also swabs every passenger before embarkation and all guests must have a daily temperature check.
The ship departed Genoa last Sunday night for a seven-night cruise of the Western Mediterranean with port calls in Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo and Valetta in Malta.
This is a momentous milestone for the cruise industry – the Grandiosa was the first ship to sail out of March. While she sailed at 70 per cent capacity, it is a strong sign the cruise industry is finding ways to operate in the coronavirus pandemic. At full capacity, Grandiosa is able to accommodate 6334 passengers.
The cruise line also earlier this week, announced the float out of their new ship, the MSC Seashore. She will be the longest ship from the line and is the most innovative vessel from the line.
She will have a larger exclusive Yacht Club, 28 more terraced suites, two suites with private whirlpools as well as more cabin categories. Onboard, there are also two new specialty restaurants.
The ship will feature the latest customer-centric technology with MSC for Me available across multiple digital channels where passengers can book restaurant seatings, spa treatments and shore excursions. ZOE, the virtual personal cruise assistant will be available in every cabin.
MSC is planning major expansion with new ships and itineraries.
And Australia is definitely on the list. Speaking to Cruise Passenger, MSC Cruises Manager Director of Australia, Alessandro Guerreri said the line has a strong commitment to the local region. The MSC Magnifica will be sailing in New Zealand in February 2021 and Australia from 26 February. She’ll be spending a night in Sydney before sailing to Brisbane and Cairns.
“As a long-term strategy, should the opportunity arise to homeport one of our ships in Sydney, we would love to open the world of MSC Cruises to more Australians,” said Mr Guerreri.
“Australians love to cruise and MSC offers options for couples, families, multi-generational and those looking for a luxury experience. A ship within a ship, our Yacht Club offers the luxury of a private club, with guests having access to exclusive areas and also enjoying the myriad of entertainment and experiences the ship has to offer.
“Our family cruise options are designed for parents and children to enjoy fun times together and quality time separately, including kids’ clubs and activities with exclusive partnerships such as LEGO.”