MSC Seashore has been denied entry to MSC’s private island of Ocean Cay in the Bahamas for her call on December 29. During her 5-night trip from Miami, several crew members and a handful of guests were identified as positive with COVID-19.
In a letter from Captain Galano, guests were informed that the Bahamian government has forced the vessel to cancel its call to Ocean Cay Marine Reserve. The call from the Bahamian government could bring further complications to cruise lines, which are dealing with several ports of call that have denied entry to cruise ships in recent weeks.
MSC Forced to Cancel Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve
Ocean Cay is the private island resort destination for MSC Cruises. The resort island is 20 miles south of Bimini and is just 65 miles east of Miami. MSC Seashore was heading to the island for the final call of a 5-night cruise from Miami and the second call to the island on this voyage.
Unfortunately for the guests onboard, the Bahamian government denied entry to the vessel based on several confirmed cases amongst the crew and a handful of passengers.
In a letter to guests, the master of the vessel writes: “During routine monitoring as part of our Industry leading health and safety protocol, we recently identified a limited number of onboard cases among crew as well as a handful of guests, who tested positive for COVID-19. In line with our protocol, we immediately isolated individuals and their close contacts in the section of the ship that is dedicated for this and is separate from where you conduct all your activities.”
Although cases onboard are nothing new, and cases have occurred on ships since the resumption of sailing in the U.S. back in June 2021, recently ports of call have started denying entry to several vessels. MSC Seashore previously visited Ocean Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas on the same voyage, so a cancellation of the same port of call that the ship called at only days earlier will have been a surprise to many.
Captain Galano announced the decision from the Bahamian government in the same letter to guests onboard: “As you know, when it comes to their response to the increases in positive COVID-19 cases currently seen worldwide, Caribbean islands continuously and independently evaluate their own specific policies and procedures as it relates to individuals entering their territories.”
“Unfortunately, and unlike most ports of call, the government of the Bahamas has decided to force us to cancel our call to Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve today out of abundance of caution. Due to the short notice we will replace it with an additional day at sea. I apologize for any inconvenience this might cause you and thank you for your understanding.”
MSC Seashore is returning to Miami on December 30; from here, she will depart on a 9-day voyage to Ocho Rios, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and MSC Ocean Cay, and Nassau in the Bahamas.
Bahamian Government Decision Could be Troublesome for Cruise Lines
Several cruise lines have been denied entry to ports in the Caribbean recently, including Odyssey of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Carnival Freedom, and several more. However, this is the first time a vessel has been denied entry to the Bahamas.
More worrisome is that MSC Seashore has been denied entry to its private island resort of Ocean Cay. Nearly all cruise lines have private island resorts in the Bahamas. Royal has Perfect Day at CocoCay, Carnival Corporation has Half Moon Cay and Princess Cays, and Norwegian has Great Stirrup Cay. Until now, it was assumed these private island destinations would remain accessible.
Not having the private islands as a fallback option will leave cruise lines few options for making ports of call. It could mean many more days at sea as more and more destinations explore their options to keep Omicron away for as long as possible.
Until now, only the Mexican government has clarified that cruise ships will be welcome no matter what. On the other hand, other destinations such as Puerto Rico have implemented strict testing requirements before entry.
Cruise lines have done their utmost to provide safe and enjoyable sailings to their guests. With widespread testing and vaccination mandates for all guests and strict health and safety measures onboard, a cruise is still the safest option out there, with caseloads far below those found anywhere ashore. Hopefully, the destinations exploring options will realize this sooner rather than later and cruises will continue to be welcome.