Late Thursday night, a brawl erupted on a MSC cruise ship which had been denied permission to dock in several Caribbean ports this week over fears of coronavirus, according to several news outlets.

Jamaica and the Cayman Islands blocked the MSC Meraviglia from docking when the ship called on Ocho Rios, Jamaica and later when the ship was scheduled to call on George Town, Grand Cayman. The MSC cruise ship later sailed on to Cozumel, Mexico where authorities initially prohibited it from docking. Mexico later reconsidered after health officials in Cozumel found no evidence that any of the passengers or crew members had coronavirus.

Several newspaper reported that tensions were high on the ship due to these itinerary disruptions which kept the passengers bottled-up on the MSC ship. Many passengers, including several hundred Italians, were concerned that they would be quarantined and not be able to return to Miami, where the cruise originated on February 16th and is scheduled to end on March 1st.

Several passengers took videos of the melee’ which broke out between guests on the ship (and what appears to be a guest vandalizing a piano) including when security personnel responded by pepper-spraying at least one passenger. The Italian tabloid TPI has a full account of the incident and a video of a guest being sprayed in face and then taken down by a half-dozen security guards wearing black.

According to TPI, MSC Cruises issued the following public relations statements regarding the brawl:

” . . . the video can be misunderstood . . . Unfortunately two drunk guests became aggressive and violent towards some crew musicians who were entertaining all the people in the ship’s lobby. Once on the scene, the members of the security service were forced to use a minimum of force necessary to calm the two guests in question, with whom the matter was subsequently clarified and resolved in a peaceful and serene way. ”

“It was clear that this was an unpleasant episode, but unfortunately it was necessary to intervene to avoid that the attitude of these two people could endanger not only the musicians who had been attacked but also other guests.”

It should be expected that there will be other port states refusing to authorize cruise ships to call on their ports whenever there are incidents where passengers or crew show symptoms of flu-like symptoms, even if the symptoms are later found to be attributable to influenza.

MSC Cruise told the Daily Mail that the measures by Jamaica and Grand Cayman were “born out of fear, not best medical practice,” and caused “unnecessary and unjustifiable anxiety.”

MSC may be right, but its security staff responds by pepper-spraying a guest in the face? (see video here).

MSC apparently will refund all of the guests on the ship their cruise fare due to the “disruptive nature of their vacation.”

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