Cruise line MSC Cruises is preparing for a possible resumption of cruises in the Mediterranean this summer and is awaiting final approval for MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica to begin cruising. According to the press release, MSC Grandiosa will offer seven-day cruises in the Western Mediterranean, while MSC Magnifica will serve the Eastern Mediterranean. Their actual start dates will be determined in accordance with guidelines received by the relevant authorities.
The planned routes include Greece and Malta, where the authorities not only reopened their ports for cruise shipments, but also approved a health and safety protocol to support the reopening of MSC Cruises.
Speaking at a press conference held in Italy, MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Honorato revealed full details of the company's overarching health and safety protocol that has been developed to support the resumption of cruises in the Mediterranean, designed to protect the health and safety of guests and crew. as well as local communities.
MSC Cruises, with the participation of in-house and invited experts, has developed a robust protocol to protect the health and safety of passengers and crew, adding a number of new procedures that go beyond current regional and national standards and set higher levels of safety.
At the initial stage of the resumption of work, MSC Cruises liners will only accept passengers who are residents of the Schengen countries. Routes have been designed for ease of access to ports to reduce the need for guests to use public transport and air travel.
In the United States, MSC vessels will only return to service after obtaining the necessary approvals from the appropriate local and national authorities.
New MSC Cruises Health and Safety Protocol
Designed with input from health experts to help prevent and reduce the risk of virus transmission while cruising. The Protocol is expected to evolve in line with the changing epidemiological situation ashore. As it stands, it applies to ships entering service this August and includes the following precautionary clauses:
1. A universal medical examination of guests before boarding, which consists of three complex stages: a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 smear. Depending on the results of the screening and in accordance with the medical or travel history of the guest, a second medical examination or testing will be carried out. Any guest who tests positive, has symptoms or a fever will be denied boarding. Following the recommendations of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, guests traveling from high-risk countries will be required to undergo a molecular PCR test, which must be done within 72 hours of arriving on board. All crew members will be screened for COVID-19 prior to landing and also regularly during their contract.
2. Enhanced sanitation and hygiene measures supported by the introduction of new cleaning methods, the use of disinfectants for hospitals and air purification on board with ultraviolet lighting technology that kills 99.97% of germs.
3. Social distancing will be achieved by reducing the total capacity of guests on board, which will allow more space for guests, approximately 10 m² per person for a total capacity of 70%. The capacity of the seat will be reduced, activities will be adapted to smaller groups, guests will have to book services and activities in advance. If social distancing is not possible, guests will be asked to wear a mask, for example in elevators. Face masks will be provided daily to guests in their cabins and will be available throughout the ship.
4. Expansion of medical facilities and the volume of medical services provided by highly qualified trained personnel, the necessary equipment to test, evaluate and treat suspected patients with COVID-19, as well as free treatment at the on-board medical center for any guest with symptoms. Special cabins will also be available to isolate passengers if a virus is suspected.
5. Continuous health monitoring will be carried out throughout the cruise. Guests and crew will have daily temperature checks upon their return from shore or at dedicated stations around the ship to monitor the health of each guest and crew member. Initially, as an additional measure of protection and to avoid health risks for guests, passengers will only go ashore on organized MSC Cruises excursions. In this way, MSC Cruises will be able to guarantee the same high health standards.
safety and security of passengers ashore as well as on board. MSC Cruises will ensure that transfer vehicles are disinfected and social distance is properly ensured. Guides and drivers will also undergo medical examinations and will wear the necessary personal protective equipment.
6. The contingency plan will be activated in the event of a suspected case being identified in close collaboration with the national health authorities. The suspect and close contacts of the virus will be isolated and may be landed in accordance with local and national regulations.
When boarding, a new digital check-in procedure has been implemented to make the process faster and more contactless. To optimize passenger traffic, time intervals have been set for arriving at the port. The health and safety measures at the cruise terminal meet the same high standards that are observed on board. Guests will have their temperature measured, and checking the health questionnaire completed by the passenger will confirm that the guest is healthy and can go on the cruise. If further checks are needed, they will be carried out by medical personnel, and if necessary, a COVID-19 test will be taken.
In addition, on board the MSC Grandiosa, each guest and crew member will be provided with a free MSC for Me wristband, which facilitates contactless operations throughout the ship and also provides contact tracing.
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