MSC Cruises has extended its Cruise With Confidence program into late summer, 2022, in response to rising uncertainty over the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.
MSC Cruises said all voyages through summer 2022 will follow the line’s health and safety protocol, flexible booking policy, vaccination and testing requirements, and return to independent exploration ashore.
The “Cruise with Confidence” program will apply to all new and existing bookings for sailings through the end of the next summer season, the cruise line said.
The program is an umbrella measure undertaken by MSC Cruises that includes all its COVID-19 mitigation measures, as well as its flexible booking policies that protect guests whose cruises are cancelled or amended at short notice.
Among the procedures implemented under the program, all guests aged 12 and above are required to be fully vaccinated, and all guests aged two and above are required to submit a negative test prior to boarding.
All ship crew are also fully vaccinated, regularly tested and follow strict health and safety policies.
A key flexibility measure of the program is that all cruises can be rescheduled free of charge up to 48 hours prior to sailing, for any reason.
In addition, all guests and their bookings are fully protected by the required COVID-19 protection insurance, which covers potential disruptions such events as testing positive before boarding or at any point during their vacation.
At the end of the cruise, it will be simple to meet any testing requirements for returning home as antigen or RT-PCR testing is available either onboard or in the terminal.
Guests can disembark and independently explore ports of call wherever local regulations allow.
The cruise line has worked in collaboration with authorities in all the regions and countries in which the ships operate to ensure the company’s protocol meets or exceeds regional and national health and safety measures.
The company also continues to monitor and adapt its health and safety protocol that was developed last year by the Blue Ribbon COVID Expert Group.
The panel of experts helped inform MSC Cruises’ operating protocol to protect the health and safety of guests and crew during every aspect of the guest’s journey, while maintaining the company’s guest experience.
Since its original inception, the panel has been reinforced with the addition of Dr. Robert R. Redfield, an American virologist and infectious disease clinician who most recently served as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2018 to 2021.
The protection measures implemented by MSC Cruises helped it become the first cruise line in the world to resume widescale operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down the industry globally in March, 2020.
By June, MSC Cruises had resumed operations out of Italy and didn’t experience any outbreaks of the virus aboard its ships.
It wasn’t until October that the first COVID-19 case was reported aboard MSC Grandiosa, while all other reports of COVID aboard MSC ships involved just one or two passengers until a widescale outbreak aboard MSC Virtuosa in September out of the UK.
That outbreak appeared to be a result of a relaxation of many of the measures contained within the Cruise With Confidence program, but MSC Cruises has not publicly acknowledged which aspects of its mitigation measures failed in that incident.