(UPDATED JULY 5)_ Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, hosted a virtual media briefing this week on what health and safety measures MSC has enacted. You can view his comments in full by going HERE.
(PRESS RELEASE)_Geneva, Switzerland (August 3, 2020) - Speaking today at a press conference held in Italy, MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato revealed the full details of the Company’s comprehensive health and safety protocol that has been developed to support the restart of operations in the Mediterranean, designed to protect the health and safety of guests and crew as well as the local communities that the Company’s ships will visit.
MSC Cruises has been working closely with the different authorities in the countries where the Company’s ships will call, to develop a comprehensive protocol. A dedicated task force, with the input and support of leading external medical experts, developed a robust protocol with new MSC Cruises’ specific operating procedures that go beyond the actual regional and national guidelines and effectively set a new standard. Additionally, RINA, the independent maritime certification corporation, has verified that the protocol meets the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Guidance, which incorporates additional health standards including those from the EU Healthy Gateways Joint Action.
MSC Cruises has developed comprehensive operating procedures that build upon already stringent health and safety measures that have long been in place on board the Company’s ships. The new procedures include universal COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew prior to embarkation, protected ashore visits at each destination only with an MSC Cruises excursion as an added level of protection for guests and the introduction of a COVID Protection Plan for further peace of mind for guests. With all of these measures in place, MSC Cruises aims to offer guests the safest possible vacation.
MSC Cruises has worked to encompass every aspect of the guest’s journey from the moment of booking, embarkation and life on board through to disembarkation and the return home, while preserving the uniqueness of the guest experience.
Restart with Mediterranean Itineraries
MSC Cruises is preparing for a potential restart this summer in the Mediterranean which — in terms of the current development of the pandemic and its tourist attractions — is where the Company’s guests would want ships to be deployed. While awaiting the necessary final approvals, two MSC Cruises’ ships are making preparations – flagship MSC Grandiosa and popular ship MSC Magnifica. MSC Grandiosa will offer 7-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean and MSC Magnifica will serve the East Mediterranean. Their actual departure dates will be determined in accordance with the guidelines received by the relevant authorities. The itineraries that are planned include Greece and Malta where the authorities have not only re-opened their ports to cruising but also have approved the health and safety protocol to support MSC Cruises’ restart of operations.
For this initial phase of the restart of operations, the two MSC Cruises’ ships operating in the Mediterranean for the current summer season will initially only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries. Additionally, their itineraries have been designed according to the accessibility of the ports, reducing — where possible — the need for guests to make use of public transport or flights, and have been planned in conjunction with the authorities.
Guests residing in countries who are unable to sail on the summer Mediterranean cruises will be contacted by MSC Cruises with options for their vacation plans.
In the U.S., MSC Cruises’ ships will only return to service once the necessary approvals have been received from the relevant local and national authorities, including the CDC, as well as across the regions where the ships will operate.
MSC Cruises’ Comprehensive Health and Safety Operating Protocol Aims to Set a New Standard
Having set up a cross-functional task force comprised of in-house experts in the areas of Medical Services, Public Health and Sanitation, Hotel Services, HVAC and other Shipboard Engineering Systems, Information Technology and Logistics, MSC Cruises engaged leading global healthcare provider Aspen Medical to further assist with the development of the protocol and operating procedures. In addition, MSC Cruises has established a blue-ribbon COVID Expert Group – a panel of highly qualified and internationally respected experts to inform and review our initiatives and ensure that the actions taken are appropriate, effective and informed by the best available science and health practices.
Combining new data and research into COVID-19, an improved understanding of the virus and how it behaves with the latest technology in screening and protecting people from possible contagion, the new operating protocol is designed to prevent and mitigate the risk of transmission during an MSC Cruises’ vacation. It includes the following pillars in terms of precautionary measures and response planning:
From the moment a guest starts to plan and book to the moment they return home, MSC Cruises has assessed every touchpoint of their vacation to put in place the appropriate health and safety measures. Guests will be supported every step of the way with simple and practical information, clear booking conditions and supporting technology to make the process smooth and seamless.
MSC Cruises has introduced a new MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan to provide guests with additional peace of mind for the summer cruises. This will cover the guest if they become infected prior to their departure if they are not able to travel, during the cruise for medical expenses and after the cruise if the guest falls sick. The MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan is currently available only to guests from Schengen countries. In addition to this, guests should also choose their usual travel and health insurance coverage.
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 health and safety measures in the cruise terminal will meet the same high standards as those on board. Guests will undergo a COVID-19 swab test, a temperature check and an in-person check of the health questionnaire to ensure that they are healthy and eligible to cruise. If further checks are needed, these will be carried out by medical staff and, if needed, a further COVID-19 test could be carried out.
Ashore, guests will be able to enjoy the different destinations the ships visit, but this will be only as part of an organized MSC Cruises excursion that will be delivered with the same high standards as the health and safety measures on board. By taking this decision the Company is able to ensure that every aspect of the guest’s time ashore meets the appropriate standards of health and hygiene — from ensuring that transfers are properly sanitized, tour guides and drivers are wearing PPE and venues and sites to be visited are pre-screened through to ensuring there are reserved areas for MSC Cruises’ guests at attractions.
Guest-centric Technology Underpins the Health and Safety Measures
MSC Cruises’ health and safety measures are supported by industry-leading guest technology to facilitate a contactless experience and provide guests with important and relevant information as and when they need it.
For guests on board both ships, 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.
Additionally, on board 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.
A new Information Center, accessible by telephone, will allow guests to call Guest Services for information, rather than having to go to the desk in person.
A Rich and Enjoyable Onboard Experience
Guests will continue to enjoy the rich experiences that have been central to an MSC Cruises’ vacation including award-winning shows in the theater, world-class dining, family activities, boutique shopping, engaging events and much more, but with some changes and adaptations to ensure that their health and safety is protected.
For more information on MSC Cruises’ health and safety measures as well as the guest experience visit here.
MSC Cruises’ blue-ribbon COVID Expert Group
MSC Cruises’ blue-ribbon COVID Expert Group brings together the following highly qualified and internationally respected experts in the fields of medicine, public health, and/or related scientific disciplines:
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