MSC Grandiosa became the first ship from the MSC Cruises’ fleet to welcome guests back and the first ship to implement the Company’s health and safety protocol. The first guests began embarking MSC Cruises’ flagship in the port of Genoa, Italy yesterday morning, arriving at the cruise terminal according to their allocated time slots and followed the new universal screening procedures according to the Company’s own health and safety protocol, which includes a temperature check, medical review of a health questionnaire and an antigen COVID-19 swab test for every guest prior to boarding.
After completing these steps and having received the results of the test while in the terminal, guests that were fit to travel then embarked the ship according to the new health and safety procedures, which includes sanitation of both hand and hold luggage.
All guests were given a complimentary MSC for Me wristband, which provides guests with contactless options while onboard such as opening their staterooms or making payments. These wristbands will also help to facilitate proximity and contact tracing if needed.
Additionally, over the past several weeks, all crew members have gone through similarly stringent health screening measures, which included 3 COVID-19 tests in various phases as well as a period of isolation before commencing their duties. Each crew member will then be regularly tested and their health monitored.
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO commented, “It is a real pleasure for me to be here and sail on board the first of our ships to return to service and to be able to welcome back our guests. Our main goal during these last months has been to put in place the right measures that will protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit. But at the same time, we have worked to ensure that we are able to provide our guests with a cruise holiday that they can enjoy and still experience all of the elements that they know and love from entertainment and activities on board through to protected ashore visits.”
Following the embarkation of the new guests today in Civitavecchia, more guests will also embark in the ports of Naples and Palermo. The ship will then call at Valetta in Malta before returning to Genoa on Sunday. Along the ship’s itinerary, guests will be able to go ashore to enjoy the different ports of call, but only as part of an MSC Cruises shore excursion as an added level of protection, so that their experience ashore follows the same high standards of health and safety as on board. Today, some of the guests will visit Rome — taking in all the attractions of the “Eternal City” — while traveling on sanitized transfers with social distancing in place, accompanied by tour guides and drivers who are also adhering to strict health and safety measures.
For this initial phase of the restart of operations, the two MSC Cruises’ ships operating in the Mediterranean — the second being MSC Magnifica in the East Mediterranean — for the current summer season will initially only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries . In the U.S., MSC Cruises will only restart operations when the time is right, following approval by the CDC and other relevant authorities across the region in observance of their requirements and guidelines.
About MSC Grandiosa
The Company’s new flagship, MSC Grandiosa launched in November 2019 and is the first Meraviglia-plus generation ship, offering a richness of guest experiences. This includes an iconic Mediterranean-style promenade with LED sky screen, a wide choice of international dining options including five specialty restaurants and an enhanced MSC Yacht Club. MSC Grandiosa is the second MSC Cruises’ ship to feature ZOE, the world’s first virtual cruise personal assistant and new updates to the innovative MSC for Me digital innovation program. Cirque du Soleil at Sea will be temporarily suspended on board MSC Grandiosa for the short-term, due to the challenging travel restrictions for the international artists who perform in the shows. Live music performances will be offered in the stunning Carousel Lounge at the aft of the ship, including a theatrically staged concert, The Beatles – A Musical Celebration and Who’s Who A 60’s Musical Celebration.
The Key Pillars of the Health and Safety Protocol
- Universal health screening of guests prior to embarkation that comprises three comprehensive steps: 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 will take place. Any guest who tests positive, displays symptoms or a temperature will be denied boarding. Following guidelines from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, guests traveling from countries categorized as high risk will be required to take a molecular RT-PCR test, to be done within 72 hours prior to joining the ship. All crew members will be tested for COVID-19 prior to embarkation as well as regularly during their contract.
- Elevated sanitation and cleaning measures supported by the introduction of new cleaning methods and the use of hospital-grade disinfectant products.
- Social distancing will be enabled through the reduction of the overall capacity of guests on board, allowing for more space for guests, approx. 10 m² (about 108 sq. ft.) per person based on 70% overall capacity. Venue capacity will be reduced, activities will be modified to allow for smaller groups and guests should pre-book services and activities to manage guest numbers. When social distancing is not possible, guests will be asked to wear a face mask, for instance in the elevators. The face masks will be provided daily to guests in their staterooms and will be available around the ship.
- Enhanced medical facilities and services with highly qualified staff trained, the necessary equipment to test, evaluate and treat suspected COVID-19 patients and the availability of free treatment at the onboard Medical Center for any guest with symptoms. Dedicated isolation staterooms will be available to enable isolation of any suspected cases and close contacts.
- Ongoing health monitoring will be conducted throughout the cruise. Guests and crew will have their temperature checked daily either when they return from ashore or at dedicated stations around the ship to monitor the health status of every guest and crew member. During this initial phase of operations, as a further enhanced measure of protection and to avoid risks to the health of guests and their fellow cruisers, guests will only go ashore as part of an organized MSC Cruises’ excursion. This means that MSC Cruises can protect their health while ashore with excursions that will be delivered with the same high standards of health and safety on board. MSC Cruises will ensure that transfers are properly sanitized and that there is adequate space. Tour guides and drivers will also undergo health screening and will wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- A contingency response plan will be activated if a suspected case is identified, in close cooperation with the national health authorities. The suspected case and close contacts will follow isolation measures and may be disembarked according to local and national regulations.