TORONTO — MSC Cruises made headlines last week when a family onboard the line’s first post-pandemic sailing was denied reboarding after straying from an MSC-organized shore excursion.
While it was a tough break for the family, it might have been the best thing that could have happened for the cruise industry amid this pandemic.
It showed just how seriously cruise lines are taking the ‘new normal’ health and safety protocols.
In this exclusive video interview, MSC Cruises USA Chairman Rick Sasso tells Travelweek why it was the right decision, one that was applauded by the industry and in the court of public opinion as well. “I think everyone who read about that was going ‘Bravo’,” he says.
Sasso also talks about the mood onboard the MSC Grandiosa’s first sailing post-COVID-19, and what’s happening with the delayed departure dates for MSC Magnifica, the second ship to set sail.
Getting the MSC Grandiosa back in service post-pandemic was a great achievement, the culmination of thousands of hours of hard work by the MSC team and its crews, says Sasso.
Last week’s cruise on MSC Grandiosa, the testing ground for all of MSC’s new health and safety protocols and the first of several upcoming sailings, went off without a hitch.
“The reports [from passengers] were great,” Sasso tells Travelweek. “Our fundamental goal was to go above and beyond compliance. This is a starting point and we’re glad to be the company that did that.”
Sasso adds: “What’s most gratifying is we’ve kind of set a path now, an evolution for us as an industry, certainly MSC but also as an industry too, to find the right solutions to get back to some normalcy with holidays and vacations, and particularly with cruise vacations.”
Find out why Sasso thinks taking a cruise is safer than going to the grocery store, and how even mask-wearing and social distancing are “contagious”, in a good way. “It’s contagious from a guest experience point of view. They want to be safe, they want to be around people who are safe and they want to travel with companies and businesses who understand that.”