Only Schengen zone residents
At first, the line would carry only Schengen zone residents.
Seven-night cruises would sail to the Western Mediterranean on MSC Grandiosa and to the Eastern Mediterranean on MSC Magnifica. The planned itineraries include Greece and Malta where the authorities have reopened their ports to cruising and approved MSC Cruises’ protocols.
Additionally, the itineraries have been designed according to the accessibility of the ports, reducing — where possible — the need for travelers to make use of public transport or flights.
The actual departure dates are still to be determined in accordance with the relevant authorities.
MSC Cruises, supported by experts at Aspen Medical and a panel of international experts, developed robust health safety protocols, and classification society RINA verified these meet the European Maritime Safety Agency guidance and additional health standards including the EU Healthy Gateways guidance.
COVID-19 testing for all, only MSC excursions
The new procedures include COVID-19 testing for all passengers and crew prior to embarkation. During the initial phase of operations, passengers will go ashore only as part of an organized MSC Cruises’ excursion.
A redesigned embarkation procedure with digital check-in processes will be implemented. Universal health screening includes a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test. Depending on the results and according to the passenger’s medical/travel history, a secondary health screening or COVID-19 test will take place. Anyone testing positive, displaying symptoms or presenting a temperature will be denied boarding.
Following guidelines from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, travelers from countries categorized as high risk will be required to take a molecular RT-PCR test within 72 hours before joining the ship. All crew will be tested for COVID-19 prior to embarkation and regularly during their contract.
UV-C air sanitation
Elevated sanitation and cleaning measures will include the use of hospital-grade disinfectants and sanitation of the air on board with UV-C light that kills 99.97% of microbes.
70% passenger capacity limit
Social distancing will be enabled by reducing passenger capacity to 70%, allowing approximately 10 square meters/108 square feet per person. Venue capacity will be reduced, activities will be modified to allow for smaller groups and passengers should pre-book services and activities.
New spaces will be reserved for children and teens as the youth areas will operate at a reduced capacity. Parents taking an excursion can still leave children with the youth staff by making a reservation one day in advance.
Free medical center treatment for symptomatic travelers
When social distancing is not possible, passengers will be asked to wear a mask, for instance, in lifts. Masks will be provided in cabins and will be available around the ship.
Enhanced medical facilities will include the ability to test and treat suspected COVID-19 patients and free treatment at the on-board medical center for any guest with symptoms. Dedicated isolation cabins will be available.
Passengers and crew will have their temperature checked daily either when they return from ashore or at dedicated stations around the ship.
A contingency response plan will be activated if a suspected case is identified, in close cooperation with national health authorities. The suspected case and close contacts will follow isolation measures and may be disembarked according to local and national regulations.