Newspapers in Italy are reporting that there are reports of two people who tested positive for COVID-19 aboard the MSC Seaside. The newspapers state that two passengers tested positive for the virus.

Informazione and Lasicliaweb report that the positive test results came during a routine check after the ship sailed from Italy. The country of Malta refused the MSC ship permission to dock because of the positive test results. The cruise ship then disembarked the two passengers and an undisclosed number of their family members ashore in Syracuse, Sicily. Subsequent reports, including by the Washington Post, explain that the infected passengers “were not traveling together on the MSC Seaside.”

According to these articles, MSC claims that “all passengers must undergo tests or be fully vaccinated in order to be admitted to boarding.”

Last October, there was a confirmed case of CIVD-19 aboard the MSC Grandiosa.

In addition, the MSC Gransdiosa sailed on a seven-day itinerary which left Genoa on October 11th of last year. There were several reports that after calling on Palermo, the MSC ship sailed to Valetta, Malta. However, the Maltese maritime authorities denied the vessel permission to port and disembark guests for an shore excursion due to a suspected case of coronavirus among the crew members, according to Ship MagMalta Ship News reported that the ship entered Valetta’s Grand Harbour and left port the same morning without discharging any passengers.  The ship then sailed back to Genoa.

There is no mandatory reporting of COVID on cruises leaving European ports. Most accounts of COVID-19 which during cruises in Europe are from the local press.

MSC so far has made no public statement regarding this latest number of cases.  There is no explanation by the company why its policy of a vaccination or a test didn’t work.

It is currently advertising, via Twitter, “unleashing your sense of discovery” by traversing “the sunny and historic Mediterranean aboard the MSC Seaside.”

The last COVID-19 outbreak on a cruise ship occurred toward the end of last month when at least two crew members on Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Maltese newspaper CBE News. Another newspaper reports that there were five crew members who tested positive for the virus, although Royal Caribbean stated that there were only four crew members infected.

With these two positive COVID-19 cases on the MSC Seaside, there have been at least 220 to 223 cases of COVID-19 on cruise ships sailing from European ports since cruising stopped from U.S. ports last March.  We explained this in our article titled Cruise Lines Continue to Misrepresent Number of Positive COVID-19 Cases During Cruises Outside of the U.S. (there were 214 cases at this time).

The cruise industry’s trade organization, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), initially released patently false information that there have been “less than fifty (50) cases of COVID-19 on sailing outside of the U.S. involving over 400,000 cruise passengers.”

Several cruise executives have continued to perpetuate the false information started by CLIA and often add in other dubious claims (such as: a NCL cruise ship is allegedly the “safest place on earth” because of the cruise line’s “ironclad” health and safety protocols” via NCL’s CEO Frank Del Rio). Numerous travel agents, travel writers and cruise bloggers, in turn, have added to the misleading narrative. We have carefully documented each COVID-19 case on a ocean and river cruise sailing from a port outside of the U.S. since the U.S. cruise industry stopped sailing last March.

Governor DeSantis’ legal team is using the false “there’s-less-than-50-COVID-cases-in-Europe” argument in its legal briefs in the pending lawsuit filed by the state of Florida against the CDC. We suggest reading: Cruise Lines’ Claim that Cruising in Europe and Asia Has No Or Only Limited Transmission of COVID-19: “Not An Equivalent Comparison to the U.S.” (based on CDC information).

“Safe Bubble Cruise?” 

MSC touts what it calls a “safe bubble cruise” with its so-called “stringent MSC Cruises Health & Safety Protocol.” The protocol includes:

“The original test results certificate or vaccination certificate must be presented at the terminal (paper or electronic format) in order to embark on the ship. The certificate must be in English, Italian, German, French or Spanish and must contain: guest’s personal data (verifiable with the other travel documents), date of the test, identification / contact details of the centre that performed the analysis, technique used and negative test result.”

So the question arises – what went wrong on the MSC Seaside?

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Image Credit: Top – MSC Seaside leaving the Port of Miami – Yanjipy – CC BY-SA 4.0, commons / wikimedia; Lower – MSC Seaside –