The family broke off from the group during an excursion organized by the cruise line to Naples.

By Alison Fox
August 20, 2020
Advertisement

A family on MSC Cruises' first trip back on the water in the Mediterranean was not allowed back on board after separating from their group during an officially planned excursion.

Sailing on the MSC Grandiosa, the first cruise to hit the Mediterranean since Italy lifted its lockdown, the family broke off from the group during an excursion organized by the cruise line to Naples, an MSC spokeswoman confirmed to Travel + Leisure on Thursday. But they left the group during the excursion, breaking the “social bubble” the cruise line requires for port excursions and were denied the chance to re-board the ship.

"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," Paige Rosenthal, a spokeswoman for MSC Cruises, told T+L. "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 (PPE)."

Ahead of its voyage MSC Cruises, which is set to launch a second ship in the Eastern Mediterranean later this month, declared that as a part of their new protocol, in wake of the coronavirus, guests are only allowed to leave the ship if they were on an excursion planned by the ship.

It was also not immediately clear how long the family left the group during the excursion, where they went, or what their accommodations are on land.

In addition to the family that broke off from their tour, Rosenthal said three people tested positive for COVID-19 with an antigen swab test as they were boarding the ship for the first time in Naples. They were then isolated and tested again with a RT-PCR test, which came back negative.

The passengers will now join the next sailing embarking this coming weekend.

The cruises, which are limited to 70 percent capacity, are only open to residents of the Schengen area in Europe and passengers are subject to temperature checks and COVID-19 swabs upon boarding.

While onboard, they are also given wristbands, which work for contactless payment and access to staterooms as well as contact tracing, and are required to wear face masks in elevators and other public areas.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram @alisonwrites.