An Italian family was denied reboarding to the MSC Grandiosa after breaking from an organized shore excursion in violation of the company’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
The incident occurred during a call at the port of Naples in Italy as the flagship Grandiosa was on the company’s first voyage since the cruise industry shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had to deny re-embarkation to a family who broke from their shore excursion yesterday while visiting Naples, Italy,” Paige Rosenthal, a spokesperson for MSC Cruises, told USA TODAY.
“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,” Rosenthal said.
MSC’s stringent COVID-19 protocols allow only for organized shore trips and the spokesperson said that allowing the family to return to the ship would have posed a health risk to other passengers on the Grandiosa.
MSC Grandiosa sailed Sunday from Genoa
MSC Grandiosa, among the five largest cruise ships in the world with a capacity of over 6,000, sailed Sunday from Genoa and was believed to be carrying some 2,500 passengers. The figure would make it the largest experiment so far in returning to cruise operations and whether rapid pre-embarkation testing can point the way forward for the lifting of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to lift its no-sail order after months of shutdown.
Guests arrived according to a designated time slot to be screened as part of MSC’s, health and safety protocol, which includes a temperature check, medical review of a health questionnaire and an antigen COVID-19 swab test for every guest prior to boarding.
Passengers who test positive for the antigen test, which identifies whether a person has contracted the virus in the past, are then sent for a PCR molecular swab that tests if they are currently infected.
The company said in a press release that “after completing these steps and having received the results of the test while in the terminal, guests that were fit to travel then embarked the ship according to the health and safety protocol which includes sanitation of both hand and hold luggage.” MSC did not state whether anyone was denied boarding or tested positive for COVID-19.
After calling at the port of Palermo in Italy on Wednesday, the Grandiosa will stop in Valletta, Malta on Friday before completing its seven-night tour of the Mediterranean when it returns to Genoa on Sunday.