One MSC Cruise ship, the MSC Divina, sailing out of Miami, has been forced to adjust its itinerary, including the cancellation of a call in Colombia. The vessel was due to visit the historic city center of Cartagena on January 1.
It’s not the first time this week the vessel has seen issues. The vessel was denied entry to Oranjestad in Aruba today, December 31. The vessel took extra measures earlier this week to mitigate any cases by scheduling an additional antigen test onboard on December 28.
MSC Divina Itinerary Affected
More and more cruise lines and cruise ships feel the effects that Omicron is having worldwide. Not in the least through increased cases onboard. Despite that these cases all seem to have light to no effects on those affected, it certainly affects itineraries.
On December 31, MSC Divina was denied entry to Oranjestad, Aruba, in the Dutch Caribbean. While the vessel has seen rising cases onboard since she departed from Miami on December 26, the island of Aruba is dealing with a considerable increase in cases itself. With several cruise ships being denied entry to the port in recent days, the denial to dock did not surprise.
And yet, MSC Cruises cannot be blamed for not taking the required precautions. On December 26 guests onboard MSC Divina were asked to take an additional antigen test, a letter from Captain Sarcinella said this:
“Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases seen around the world with the contagious Omicron variant becoming the dominant strain, MSC Cruises has decided, out of an abundance of caution, and as part of our existing protocol, to require that all guests who embarked yesterday (December 26) take an additional antigen test.”
MSC Divina has now cancelled a call to Cartagena, Colombia, of its own accord. This comes as rising cases onboard amounted to 50 crew members, according to the Mayor of Cartagena, who did not need to cancel the call as the ship decided to do so itself.
“Two days ago they had three cases of COVID, yesterday they dawned with 50, already in other ports they have been denying entry and we then in Cartagena we were not going to approve it, but it was not necessary because they themselves, in a responsible decision, decided to turn back,” reported Mayor William Dau.
MSC Divina is on an 11-day roundtrip cruise from Miami, Florida, visiting several Southern and Western Caribbean ports; she sailed on December 26. The ship never stopped in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and the calls in Aruba and Cartagena were cancelled. The vessel’s next stop was Colon, Panama; however, it seems the vessel has been granted entry to Roatan, Honduras, where she is making a call on December 31, 2021.
Unconfirmed reports online state that the vessel has already cancelled all remaining ports for the voyage, and she will be making her way to Cozumel, Mexico, instead.
Are the Preventive Measures Working?
The situation MSC Divina finds herself in this week shows how difficult it can be for cruise lines to navigate the myriad of rules and changes that ports are implementing in the Caribbean mainly, despite the efforts of the cruise lines to keep ships as safe as possible.
The vessel already requires all guests older than 12 years of age to be fully vaccinated, guests need to show a negative antigen test before boarding, and, as mentioned, the vessel performed an additional test onboard the vessel on December 28.
The cruise lines’ measures with vaccination mandates and testing are indeed working to keep COVID-19 away to a degree. The company’s and onboard staff have also proven to be exceptionally able to find and isolate cases onboard. All this is proven by the low amounts of cases onboard, most ships remaining well below a 1% caseload among total passengers onboard.
However, with the CDC raising the Health travel advisory to level 4 and any agreements between the cruise lines and ports of call being put to the side by local governments, it is looking as if the tide is against the industry once again.