MSC Cruises has announced new health regulations for cruises departing from the United States. The third-largest cruise company in the world follows the guidelines that Royal Caribbean has rolled out for their cruises from Florida.
The company has already started operations out of Miami, Florida, with MSC Meraviglia, although the new health guidelines will not go into effect until August August 27, 2021. From that date onwards, all guests age two and older – regardless of vaccination status – must provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test.
Updated Protocols From August 27
MSC Cruises will sail with three cruise ships from US ports this year; these are MSC Meraviglia, MSC Divina, and MSC Seashore. The new health regulations that the cruise line released this week will be enforced from August 27 for MSC Meraviglia sailing from Port Miami and MSC Divina sailing from Port Canaveral.
What health regulations will be in place for MSC Seashore sailing in November is unclear as the health regulations are regularly changing.
MSC Cruises plans to sail with both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests onboard its ships. Those guests that are willing and able to show proof of vaccination, which was administered 14 days before their departure date, are considered fully vaccinated.
Guests who have not been vaccinated or are unwilling to share their vaccination details with the cruise line are considered unvaccinated. All guests, whether they are fully vaccinated or not will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test at the pier.
For vaccinated guests, this can be a RT-PCR test, negative NAAT, or negative antigen test. For unvaccinated guests, the antigen test is not accepted.
The cruise line now also asks all guests to purchase additional insurance, which is mandatory for unvaccinated guests, and optional for vaccinated guests. MSC Cruises’ Travel & COVID-19 Reassurance, which is a lower-tiered insurance, will be provided at no extra charge for guests who are fully vaccinated, including kids under 12 years old. More information on the insurance policies can be found in this pdf.
As has been the standard for MSC Cruises, it requires all guests to wear a mask while inside the ship at all times, and masks are recommended to be used while in the outdoor areas of the ship. A change to the cruises that have been operating in Europe is that vaccinated guests can go ashore when they please.
There will be no free shore time for unvaccinated guests at any of the ports of call, except at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Guests will need to purchase a ‘bubble tour’ if they wish to go ashore in any other ports.
Guests can choose from three different MSC cruise ships this year sailing from Florida. MSC Meraviglia has started sailing on August 2 from PortMiami. The 171,598 gross tons ship was built in 2015 and has a guest capacity of 4,500 guests.
She is sailing on three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas, including a call to MSC’s private island of Ocean Cay. The ship will also operate seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises from September 18, 2021.
MSC Divina is the third 139,400 gross tons Fantasia-class cruise ship launched by MSC cruises in 2012. The vessel has space for 3,502 passengers and will start operating from Port Canaveral on September 16 with seven-night itineraries out of Port Canaveral, Florida, including calls to Ocean Cay, Cozumel, and Costa Maya.
MSC Divina will also be sailing three-night voyages that include Nassau and Ocean Cay in the Bahamas. MSC Seashore will commence operations out of Miami, Florida, on November 18. The new ship will be sailing seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries