GENEVA — Ahead of its potential restart this summer in the Mediterranean, MSC Cruises has unveiled its full list of health and safety protocols made in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Two MSC ships are currently making preparations for a summer restart: the flagship MSC Grandiosa, which will offer seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean, and the MSC Magnifica, which will serve the Eastern Mediterranean. Both ships will only be serving residents in Europe’s Schengen countries during this initial phase of operations. Departure dates have yet to be announced.
When operations do resume, passengers will find a host of new safety measures onboard MSC’s ships, developed by a dedicated task force and verified by an independent maritime certification corporation that they meet the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Guidance. Protocols include, but are not limited to, the following:
- 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 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. Guests travelling from countries categorised 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 will include the use of hospital-grade disinfectant products and the sanitation of the air onboard with UV-C light technology that kills 99.97% of microbes.
- Social distancing will be enabled by reducing the overall capacity of guests onboard to 70%. 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 lifts. The face masks will be provided daily to guests in the cabin and will be available around the ship.
- Enhanced medical facilities and services will be supported by highly-qualified and trained staff, 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 cabins 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. During this initial phase of operations, guests will only go ashore as part of an organised MSC Cruises excursion. MSC 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 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.
- A redesigned embarkation procedure with digital check-in processes has been implemented to make the process more seamless and contactless with arrival timeslots to manage guest flow.
- The MSC for Me app will support and facilitate the new health and safety measures. The app can be used to book services as well as to manage their daily activities on board and source information.
- Onboard MSC Grandiosa every guest and crew member will be provided with a complimentary MSC for Me wristband, which facilitates contactless transactions around the ship as well as providing contact and proximity tracing.
MSC has extended its temporary halt of Mediterranean cruises up to Aug. 15 included. It also announced in June that its ships operating from U.S. ports in the Caribbean will be paused until Sept. 15.
For more information on MSC’s health and safety measures click here. For the latest operations updates from MSC go to https://www.msccruises.ca/coronavirus.