MSC Cruises announced that it would resume sailings from Florida with MSC Meraviglia out of Miami and MSC Divina out of Port Canaveral. The cruise line has now released the health regulations that will govern these sailings.
The cruises onboard the two ships will be open for guests that have been vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as for those that have not been vaccinated. There will, however, be significant differences between vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests onboard the ships in terms of insurance coverage, mask-wearing, testing requirements, and shore excursions.
MSC To Adopt Multilayered Approach
MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divina will be welcoming guests onboard the ships in August and September who are both vaccinated and not fully vaccinated. However, to keep all guests and crew members safe and healthy, the cruise line has put in place several measures that will encourage vaccinated guests to book.
Guests who are not fully vaccinated will be required to purchase MSC Cruises’ Travel Insurance & COVID-19 Protection Services (free of charge for vaccinated guests) and subject to more stringent protocols on board. The cruise line has also adopted other measures which will only be in place for non-vaccinated guests.
At the moment, these measures include the required purchase of MSC Cruises sponsored shore excursions to go ashore, COVID-19 PCR-RT testing before boarding and while onboard, as well as the required purchase of Travel Insurance & COVID-19 Protection Services.
The measures that will be in place for all guests onboard the ships include universal health screenings, including a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 antigen test, and social distancing throughout the vessel through capacity control of various outlets.
Mask-wearing will be required while indoors in public areas. Guests will be permitted to remove their masks when seated at their socially distanced tables at dining venues, bars, and lounges. Guests will be required to wear a mask outdoors where physical distancing is not possible. The company said it highly encourages guests to be fully vaccinated before embarkation in a press release.
MSC Cruises Circumvents the CDC Vaccine Protocol
Although a judge has thrown out the Conditional Sail Order from the CDC, there is still uncertainty under which protocols the cruise lines will need to operate. As such, MSC Cruises has put in place measures that comply with Florida law and the CDC’s rules and regulations.
The cruise line does not have to comply with the 95% / 98% rules for vaccinated crew and guests by saying the cruise line sails with vaccinated and unvaccinated guests. And by not mandating proof of vaccination, the cruise line is also complying with Florida law.
The cruise line merely places additional costs and measures with the unvaccinated guests making a cruise rather unappealing, making it more likely guests that are vaccinated will book more often. A policy we have seen more often lately as Royal Caribbean placed similar regulations on its sailings out of Florida.
MSC Meraviglia will set sail from the United States on August 2, 2021. The ship will offer guests three- and four-night itineraries, including calls to Nassau, Bahamas, and the private island of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. MSC Divina will sail on three-, four- and seven-night itineraries to the Bahamas and the Caribbean out of Port Canaveral, Florida, in September 2021