MSC has just resumed operations on its 2nd cruise ship, the MSC Magnifica, showing the cruise industry how it’s done.
Today, the Magnifica returned to the seas with a brand-spanking new 10-day Eastern and Western Mediterranean itinerary. The Magnifica left Genoa port early morning of October 19th and will make stops in Livorno, Messina, Athens, Katakolon, Valetta, and Rome.
The first ship MSC sent back into the water has already been cruising around the Mediterranean for weeks with happy guests on board. MSC’s Grandiosa went back into service August 16th with 7-day itineraries out of Italy.
Since then, the Grandiosa has completed 7 successful cruises and has received RINA’s Biosafe Ship notation, a certification for having the proper health and safety protocols and systems in place.
Could MSC Be The New Covid-Era Cruise King?
There is no doubt that MSC is leading the way for Covid-era cruising. Their successful new protocols and systems are blazing the trail for other cruise lines to make a safe comeback.
MSC is the only large cruise line currently in operation, running international itineraries with port stops on multiple ships.
So how are they doing it?
By basically creating a totally controlled ‘bubble’ environment on-board, reinforced through pre-embarkation testing and screening, MSC has found a way to propel the cruise industry back into operation.
If the test results of all passengers and crew are negative, then the bubble environment works.
In fact, MSC’s executive vice president and COO Ken Muskat told thepointsguy:
“We’ve actually turned away about 100 people out of the 16,000 that we’ve sailed … because they tested positive or somebody they traveled with tested positive.”
showing just how serious the cruise line is on protecting guests, as well as future sailings.
Another example of a critical safety decision MSC made was on one of their Grandiosa sailings, where a family separated from the ‘bubble’ excursion group in Naples. MSC now requires all guests on guided excursions to stay with the group at all times in order to make the bubble environment effective. Since the guests broke protocol and left the bubble, the entire family group was not allowed to re-board the ship.
an MSC Cruises spokesperson said
“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 while visiting Naples, Italy. 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.”
While some have criticized the new and more intense heath protocols, most understand it is the only way to resume cruising in the Covid-era world and a small price to pay for the ability to cruise once again.
Some of MSC’s new health and safety procedures that have enabled a thus successful return to the seas include:
Before the Cruise/Embarkation
- Testing passengers right before they embark on the ship
- Temperature checks and health screenings
- PCR tests (performed within 72 hours of embarkation day) also required from passengers coming from high-risk areas, in addition to their embarkation day test
- Disinfection of all luggage coming on board
- Staggered boarding times
During the Cruise
- Turning excursions into a ‘bubble’ type of guided experience to limit exposure possibilities
- Sanitizing all public bathrooms every 20 minutes
- Cleaning elevators and other high-touch points 2x’s per hour with hospital-grade disinfectant
- No recirculation of air inside the ship
- Social distanced dining and capacity limits on activities
- Having guests continuously and repeatedly disinfect hands
After each Cruise
- Electrostatic sprayers to thoroughly clean guest rooms and common areas in-between sailings
- Multiple testing of all crew
These extensive protocols allow things like the pools, theatres, restaurants, spas, bars and shop to be open for guests enjoyment.
All eyes are on MSC, especially those of eager North American cruisers, who are watching and waiting for MSC’s return to the west.
So when will cruising resume in the U.S.?
While MSC can’t guarantee a restart date in the USA, due to many factors outside their control, they are currently aiming for a December 5, 2020 restart date for sailings.
The first cruise MSC is planning to restart is the Meraviglia on December 5th on a 14-night sailing through the Caribbean, departing from Miami. If all goes as planned, the Armonia will join as the 2nd ship to return to American waters, leaving Miami port on December 14th for a quick 4-night Caribbean sailing.
The only other major cruise line to compare with MSC’s impressive return is Costa, who resumed cruising on September 6, 2020.
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