This past week, Twitter has remained abuzz with complaints of COVID-19 by cruise guests on the MSC Virtuosa cruising from the United Kingdom.

Nearly a week ago, the first complaints began appearing on Twitter of guests who felt ill during their cruise and, typically, tested positive as soon as they left the MSC ship. Several people tweeted that some cruisers would not agree to be tested on the cruise ship in order to avoid a £100 fee. Many complained that there was no enforcement of the wearing of face coverings or social distancing.  Others complained that not only were people ignoring the wearing of masks but that the ship was crowded.

The MSC Virtuosa is a new cruise ship which was delivered from the shipyard to MSC in early February. The cruise ship entered service on May 20th with a series of three and four-night cruises from Southampton, before beginning seven-night cruises around the British Isles in mid-June.

The U.K. press also reports that a man, described to be “in his 70s,” died onboard the MSC Virtuosa which called on Portland Port on Saturday (September 4th).  Although there is no indication that the death of this cruise guest was related to COVID-19, the absence of information from MSC Cruises is naturally leading to such reasonable speculation.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no legal requirement for cruise companies either in U.S. or U.K waters  to disclose the actual number of cases of shipboard COVID-19 to the public. This leads to cruise lines withholding such information from the public for their own selfish PR reasons rather than the health and safety of their customers. Social media sites like Twitter provide one of the only glimpses of what is actually happening on ships at sea.

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Image credit: Top – MSC VirtuosaDorset Echo.

September 8, 2021 Update:

MSC Cruises says it has strengthened its “Health & Safety Protocol” on MSC Virtuosa, with more testing, “following a rise in Covid infections in the UK.” MSC concludes that “suspected cases at the terminal and on board have been “effectively managed in line with the protocol.” Travel writer and cruise fan Dave Monk of the UK tweets:

Still, cruise guests are still complaining bitterly on Twitter that the MSC ship theater and nightclubs are packed and few are wearing masks or socially distancing. Meanwhile COVID-19 infections continue . . .
Below are a few tweets this morning:

The local press in the UK has picked up the superspreader event taking place on the MSC Virtuosa: Pensioner couple split up on MSC Virtuosa as covid cases found on cruise ship.

Recent comments left on our Facebook page by guests on the MSC ship:

  • “My whole family are isolating post cruise, all positive tests.”
  • “I too tested positive for Covid after Disembarkcation on Sat in Southampton. It is a complete shambles on board, wearing of masks compulsory in public areas, but as soon as you get to a bar or eating area off they come. The theatre was packed to full capacity. No two metre social distancing, how can you when the ship appeared to be bursting with people. Never will I go on MSC again.”
  • “We disembarked a week ago (1/9) and all 3 of us tested positive. We have seen many more guests report positive results. It was chaos whilst we were on board. Massive queues all over the ship, people not wearing masks, occupancy limits for hot tubs and lifts not adhered to. MSC did not follow their own safety protocol. They didn’t enforce their own rules which were there for the safety of their guests. It has taken the intervention of Port Health for MSC to take any action but it has still been too little too late. Having multi embarkation ports of Southampton, Liverpool and Greenock creates a vicious circle for the spread of the virus and there is no circuit breaker like cruises with only one embarkation port.”
    “I voiced concerned onboard between the 18th and 25th of August-met with blank stares from staff!”
    “I got on 25th august and was horrified. We got off on the 1st both tested positive. Was so angry with myself I trusted them with our life.”