MSC Cruises this week removed a family from its first cruise since the shutdown began for failing to adhere to its shore excursion rules.
The MSC Grandiosa departed Genoa, Italy, on Sunday, with a host of protocols in place; one of those stipulated that passengers are only allowed ashore as part of an organized shore excursion. MSC said the family disobeyed the rule by leaving their tour group and going off on their own.
"We had to deny re-embarkation to a family who broke from their shore excursion yesterday while visiting Naples," an MSC spokesperson said. "By departing from the organized shore excursion, 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."
These organized shore excursions allow MSC Cruises to uphold the same high standard of health and safety as on board, for instance ensuring that transfers are properly sanitized and that there is adequate space for social distancing, and tour guides and drivers also undergo health screening and wear appropriate personal protective equipment."
The Grandiosa itinerary includes Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo, Italy, as well as Valletta, Malta. The cruises, which are sailing at only 70% capacity in order to promote social distancing, are only open to people residing in Europe's Schengen zone, where Covid cases have been relatively low.
The cruises are being watched closely as a handful of big-ship cruise operations get underway in Europe. Costa last week revealed plans to begin sailings in early September on two ships, and a handful of Germany-focused lines have started up. Small-ship lines such as Hurtigruten, Ponant and SeaDream have been cruising, too, although a few lines came under scrutiny in early August when passengers or crew tested positive for Covid-19.