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First big cruise ship since industry-wide suspension completes 7-day cruise

MSC Grandiosa ready to depart from Genoa (PHOTO: MSC)

PortandTerminal.com, August 25, 2020

The MSC Grandiosa is one of the first cruise ships to be returning to the sea since the industry’s global shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

GENOA, ITALY – The MSC Grandiosa, the first big cruise ship to resume operations since the suspension of worldwide cruising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has completed its first 7-day cruise. The cruise industry is closely watching the Grandiosa as it plots a course for recovery in the battered industry.

Reportedly, the MSC Grandiosa voyage went successfully without any virus outbreaks onboard.

It’s a major achievement. Smaller cruise lines across Europe have restarted operations, with varying results. Mostly poor.

Earlier this month, 41 crew and 21 guests tested positive for Covid-19 after sailing on small Norwegian cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen. MSC Cruises is one of the first major companies to test the waters with a big ship, and cruise industry experts see it as a crucial test.

MSC Cruises hasn’t confirmed exact numbers, but the Grandiosa was operating at about 60% of its 6,300 passenger capacity according to CNN.

Fewer passengers on board meant no crowds and an easier time observing strict social distancing rules. Courtesy Vivere & Viaggiare Roma Pittaluga

The ship completed the round trip sailing from the Italian port city of Genoa which featured stops in  Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples, Palermo and Valletta (Malta) before returning to Genoa.

Health protocols

Taking people's temperature. Protective masks.

Health protocols were necessarily strict even before the Grandiosa set-sail. The line is only taking residents of Schengen countries on these first sailings back; a few people from high-risk countries outside the Schengen were turned away at boarding, the line said.

Prior to embarkation three health protocols were enforced: a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test. Depending on the screening results and according to the guest’s medical or travel history, a secondary health screening or testing was also required. 

Thirteen French tourists who had all shared a bus were denied boarding after one of the people in their group tested positive for COVID-19 during the swab tests. 

“The health of passengers and crew is our first and absolute priority. The security protocol is very strict. We have introduced an insurance policy that covers expenses already incurred by passengers who test positive for the swab before, during and even after the cruise,” explained MSC CEO, Gianni Onorato. 

During the voyage, another family was kicked-off the cruise after they were on a ship-sponsored shore excursion but apparently decided to go off on their own and explore which was against the rules of the cruise.

Upon returning they were denied boarding and had to forfeit the remainder of the voyage. 

“In line with our health and safety protocol, developed to ensure health and well-being 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 told industry news outlet The Points Guy. “By departing from the organized 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.”

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