MSC Cruises has announced its COVID-19 health and safety protocols for its current Red Sea cruise season out of Saudi Arabia, and its upcoming Arabian Gulf cruise season out of Dubai.
MSC Cruises is homeporting MSC Bellissima in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and will be sailing a Dubai cruise season between November and March, aboard MSC Virtuosa.
The cruise line has now updated its health and safety protocols for these sailings, as well as its cruise operations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Grand Voyages.
Travel insurance that covers COVID-19 risks will be mandatory for everyone. All passengers will need to be insured against cancellation, interruption, repatriation expenses, quarantine, medical assistance and related expenses, as well as hospitalization.
The policy must also include coverage in the case of being a close contact.
Although the cruise line is not requiring all passengers be vaccinated, only fully vaccinated guests will be allowed to go ashore independently (although this will depend on the local requirements for each port).
Those not fully vaccinated or traveling with children will generally need to participate in bubble excursions.
For MSC Cruises’ Saudi Arabian and Dubai cruise seasons, all passengers older than 12 will need to be fully vaccinated, and a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours will need to be presented for all passengers older than 2 years.
For MSC Bellissima cruises in the Red Sea, a visa is required for entry into Saudi Arabia. Travelers who purchase an MSC Fly & Cruise package will have the visa, valued at €30 per person, included in the overall cost.
Travelers need to register their vaccination status with the Saudi authorities prior to arrival.
It will be possible to purchase a PCR or antigen test on board during the cruise if this is required for travelers to return to their home country.
The announcement comes ahead of MSC Cruises’ first voyages from Dubai since the pandemic, with MSC Virtuosa due to begin cruising roundtrip from Dubai on 7-night Arabian Gulf cruises this coming November.
COVID-19 Health & Safety Requirements for other regions:
On cruises from PortMiami and Port Canaveral:
Everyone 12 and older must be vaccinated. US residents also need to provide a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 48 hours before embarking while all children 2 to 11 and alll non-US residents will need to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 before embarking. For Southern Caribbean cruises, those 12 and older must be vaccinated and everyone 2 and older needs to show a PCR test.
In the Mediterranean:
Vaccinated and un-vaccinated travelers from Schengen countries will either need to have a negative antigen or PCR test taken with 48 hours of departure or be fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months. Non-Schengen travelers will need to be fully vaccinated and provide a PCR test taken within 72 hours. Travelers can only go ashore when participating in an MSC excursion and some tours will require an official COVID certificate (for example, an EU Digital COVID certificate) to access some tourist venues, such as museums or churches.
In Northern Europe:
Passengers 12 and older need to be fully vaccinated and those 2 to 11 need to show a negative PCR test or antigen taken within 48 hours of their cruise departure. Non-Schengen passengers will need to be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours.
For grand voyages:
Passengers 12 and up need to be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before embarking; this test is also required of ages 2-11.
South America and South Africa protocols will be confirmed soon, according to Seatrade Cruise News.