Tourists kicked off Mediterranean cruise for violating virus rules

ROME (AFP) – A family of tourists was kicked off a Mediterranean cruise after leaving their organised excursion to sightsee on their own, violating the ship’s new anti-Covid regulations, the company said on Thursday (Aug 20).

The MSC Grandiosa, part of the fleet of privately owned MSC Cruises, was the first major cruise line to take to the Mediterranean after a long lockdown due to the coronavirus.

It departed from Genoa on Sunday for a seven-day tour at 70 per cent passenger capacity, part of a series of measures taken to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection on board.

The unnamed Italian family had disembarked at the port of Naples on an organised day trip to the nearby island of Capri, but then left the group and ventured forth on their own despite earlier admonitions not to, MSC said.

The family was later refused entry back on the ship.

“By departing from the organised shore excursion, this family broke from the safe ‘social bubble’ that MSC Cruises created for them to safely enjoy their visit ashore, and therefore could not be permitted to re-board the ship,” it said in a statement.

MSC is trying to avoid problems experienced by Norway’s Hurtigruten, a smaller cruise operator, earlier this month, when dozens of passengers and crew tested positive for Covid-19.

Health authorities fear passengers may have infected locals at ports up and down the Norwegian coast during day trips.

MSC said its security protocol exceeds national and industry standards.

It says it pre-screens sites to be visited to make sure social distancing can be maintained, sterilises vans and buses before trips, and ensures that tour guides and drivers are properly equipped with masks.

The global cruise industry, which is slowly trying to get back on its feet after all ships were grounded in March, has been criticised by health authorities for mishandling the epidemic in its early stages.

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