MSC Cruises isn't playing around when it comes to their new health and safety protocols. On Aug. 16, the MSC Grandiosa became the first major cruise ship to disembark in the Mediterranean after a months-long suspension of cruise ship sailings due to COVID-19 concerns. It turns out, it only took two days for passengers to start testing the waters.
According to the cruise line, after disembarking the ship in Naples and joining a ship-sponsored shore excursion, a family of passengers broke away from the sanctioned tour group to explore the Italian city on their own. Unfortunately, this was in strict violation of the MSC Cruises' new health and safety protocol. The gamble didn't pay off, and the family got into a boatload of trouble, ultimately being denied re-embarkation when they returned to the ship.
"By departing from the organized shore excursion, this family broke from the "social bubble" created for them and all other guests, and therefore could not be permitted to re-board the ship," explained a spokesperson for MSC Cruises. In other words, the family's rogue adventure put them at risk for additional, isolated exposure to COVID-19 while away from the group and, in turn, threatened the health and safety of all remaining guests and crew on board.
MSC Cruises' new health and safety rules were developed as a way for the cruise line to ensure the wellbeing of ship passengers and crew, as well as locals in communities they visit. In addition to regular onboard health screenings, amped-up cleaning protocols and frequency, social distancing measures, and other actions aimed to reduce the introduction and spread of the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19, no one on board—be it passenger or crew—is permitted to leave the ship at any port unless they are part of an official MSC-organized excursion led by a guide.
"These organized shore excursions allow MSC Cruises to uphold the same high standard of health and safety as on board," the company added. "For instance, ensuring that transfers are properly sanitized and that there is adequate space for social distancing, and tour guides and drivers also undergo health screening and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)."
Kicking the disobedient family off the ship is a clear and convincing message signaling that MSC Cruises is not afraid to take swift action against anyone who violates the new rules or puts passengers and crew in danger. At a time when the cruise industry is treading water and cruises themselves are under scrutiny for their possible contribution to the spread of COVID-19, ships can't afford to shoulder the risk—nor should they.