MSC Cruises has confirmed that all of its crew will be vaccinated against COVID for the launch of its UK cruises on 20 May.
The Italian cruise line said it had already started a fleet-wide COVID vaccination programme, starting with the MSC Bellissima Captain Giuseppe Maresca and his crew over the Bank Holiday weekend.
It said its vaccination programme has been developed and will be delivered ‘with the support of a number of national government authorities, destinations and private sector entities’.
MSC is prioritising crew members onboard its 10 ships earmarked for summer 2021 cruises in the Mediterranean and northern Europe, those scheduled to restart in the Caribbean out of US ports as well as others gearing up for their restart.
It said crew of the MSC Virtuosa, due to operate a summer season of cruises from 20 May, will also be vaccinated before the shop’s maiden voyage from Southampton.
The news should reassure cruise fans, many of whom have posted comments online about their concerns for crew, which some said made them reluctant to book cruises this summer.
MSC CEO Gianni Onorato said: “We are pleased to announce the start of a comprehensive plan of vaccinations for all of our crew. Our aim is of adding a further level of protection for both themselves and the guests they will welcome for their holidays as we lead the way in the industry’s restart this summer.
“Our health and safety protocol last year spearheaded a safe resumption of cruising in the global industry and our huge vaccination programme for all of our crew further demonstrates our commitment to their well-being, of our guests and of the communities that our fleet of ships will visit in the months ahead.”
MSC Cruises became the first major line to resume international sailings in August 2020, with cruises from Italy, for Italians, on MSC Grandiosa. joined at sea by MSC Seaside last Saturday, which embarked on a weekly programme of seven-night cruises in the western Mediterranean.