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No self service in buffet, enhanced medical facilities and fewer guests as MSC updates its safety protocol

August 5, 2020 Headline News No Comments

The cruise industry has steamed off to a disastrous relaunch with coronavirus cases being recorded by both Hurtigruten following two Arctic voyages and a Paul Gauguin Cruise out of Tahiti.  Big operators like RCL and MSC with ships carrying more than 6000 passengers will be mortified by the failure of adequate safety procedures on these voyages as they hopefully get closer to refloating the mainstream industry.

So what measures will they take to ensure the virus stays onshore?
Some of the latest thinking is included in this information covering MSC Cruises new health and safety protocol which includes the following pillars in terms of precautionary measures and response planning:

1. Universal health screening of guests prior to embarkation that comprises three comprehensive steps; a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test.

2. Elevated sanitation and cleaning measures supported by the introduction of new cleaning methods, the use of hospital-grade disinfectant products and the sanitation of the air on board with UV-C light technology that kills 99.97% of microbes;

3. Social distancing will be enabled through the reduction of the overall capacity of guests on board, allowing for more space for guests, approx. 10 m² per person based on 70% overall capacity. Venue capacity will be reduced, activities will be modified to allow for smaller groups and guests should pre-book services and activities to manage guest numbers. When social distancing is not possible, guests will be asked to wear a face mask, for instance in the lifts. The face masks will be provided daily to guests in the cabin and will be available around the ship.

4. Enhanced medical facilities and services with highly qualified staff trained, the necessary equipment to test, evaluate and treat suspected COVID-19 patients and the availability of free treatment at the onboard Medical Center for any guest with symptoms. Dedicated isolation cabins will be available to enable isolation of any suspected cases and close contacts.

5. Ongoing health monitoring will be conducted throughout the cruise. Guests and crew will have their temperature checked daily either when they return from ashore or at dedicated stations around the ship to monitor the health status of every guest and crew member.

6. A contingency response plan will be activated if a suspected case is identified, in close cooperation with the national health authorities. The suspected case and close contacts will follow isolation measures and may be disembarked according to local and national regulations.

A redesigned embarkation procedure with digital check-in processes has been implemented to make the process more seamless and contactless with arrival timeslots to manage guest flow. The health and safety measures in the cruise terminal will meet the same high standards as those on board. Guests will undergo a COVID-19 swab test, a temperature check and an in-person check of the health questionnaire to ensure that a guest is healthy and eligible to cruise. If further checks are needed, these will be carried out by medical staff and if needed, and a further COVID-19 test could be carried out.

Ashore, guests will be able to enjoy the different destinations the ships visit, but this will be only as part of an organised MSC Cruises excursion that will be delivered with the same standards of health and safety as on board. “By taking this decision the company is able to ensure that every aspect of the guest’s time ashore meets the appropriate standards of health and hygiene from ensuring that transfers are properly sanitised, that tour guides and drivers are wearing PPE, venues and sites to be visited are pre-screened through to ensuring there are reserved areas for MSC Cruises guests at attractions.”

“Industry-leading guest technology will facilitate a contactless experience, to provide guests with important and relevant information as and when they need it.”

The MSC for Me app will support and facilitate the new health and safety measures. The app can be used to book services as well as to manage their daily activities on board and source information.

Additionally, on board MSC Grandiosa every guest and crew member will be provided with a complimentary MSC for Me wristband, which facilitates contactless transactions around the ship as well as providing contact and proximity tracing.

A new Information Centre, accessible by telephone, will allow guests to call Guest Services for information, rather than having to go to the desk in person.

MSC is preparing for a potential restart this European summer in the Mediterranean. Whilst awaiting the necessary final approvals two ships are making preparations –flagship MSC Grandiosa and Magnifica. Grandiosa will offer 7-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean and Magnifica will serve the East Mediterranean. Their actual departure dates will be determined in accordance with the guidelines received by the relevant authorities. The itineraries that are planned, include Greece and Malta where the authorities have not only re-opened their ports to cruising and where they have approved the health and safety protocol to support our restart of operations.

Guests will continue to enjoy shows, family activities and shopping but with some changes and adaptations.

Onboard activities and entertainment have been redesigned to enable smaller group sizes and guests should book in advance. Children’s activities and family live game shows will be available each day. New spaces on board will be reserved for children and teenagers as the youth areas will operate at a reduced capacity. Parents on excursion can still leave children with the youth staff by making a reservation one day in advance.

MSC Cruises will continue to offer a wide choice of live entertainment around the ship. “As the capacity of the theatre will be reduced to ensure responsible social distancing, the entertainment schedule will be adapted so all our guests can still enjoy a great variety of award-winning shows.”
Restaurants, bars and lounges, will allow for social distancing and all meals and drinks will be served to guests at their table. The buffet restaurant will offer a new service concept and a new guest flow to ensure social distancing. Instead of self-service, the guests will select what they want, and the food will be plated and handed to them to take back to their table to ensure the highest level of health and hygiene measures are followed. For a contactless experience, guests will be able to access restaurant and bar menus from their personal mobile device by scanning a QR code.

Edited by Ian McIntosh

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