MSC Cruises enhances onboard guest experience as it prepares for re-start

By Andrew Pentol |

MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica are preparing to re-enter service.

MSC Retailing is continuing its focus on providing a memorable shopping experience, as the cruise line prepares for a potential restart this summer in the Mediterranean.

While awaiting final approvals, MSC Grandiosa in the west Mediterranean and MSC Magnifica in the east Mediterranean are preparing to re-enter service. Their actual departure dates will be determined in accordance with the guidelines received by the relevant authorities.

Planned itineraries include Greece and Malta where the authorities have re-opened their ports to cruising and approved the health and safety protocol to support its restart of operations.

MSC Cruises has been working with the different authorities in countries the ships will call, to develop a health and safety protocol above the required level of many authorities (see below).

According to Adrian Pittaway, Head of Retail, MSC Cruises, MSC Retailing has enhanced the onboard guest experience to ensure it is safe, welcoming and fully adapted to the current coronavirus (Covid-19) situation.

He commented: “Through our restart, we will continue to focus on providing a memorable shopping experience to our guests with warm and friendly service, expert advice and the widest range of products on offer at the best prices.

“In line with the new standards in place across our ships, we have significantly adapted our own processes to ensure that we offer an enhanced level of safety.”


Best-in-class protocols have been created from DFWC guidelines, retail specific advice from experts at Aspen Medical Consulting, safe product care guidelines from brand partners and suggestions from its retail, hotel and medical teams.

Pittaway said: “From all these inputs, we have developed a framework which we truly believe will be market-leading in the cruise retail sector. We will be using the new and innovative technology of our smart ships to ensure appropriate social distancing, deliver impactful digital communication and implement clear safety guidelines.

“In addition, we have re-invented our event programme, stock-handling processes and service experience and enhanced our crew shopping facilities and product ranges.  We will also ensure that as more of our fleet returns to service, our guests will continue to receive the same high standards of service and safety on board all our ships.”

Meanwhile, further details regarding the company’s health and safety protocol were announced today (3 August) at a press conference in Italy held by Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises.

The protocol has been designed to protect the health and safety of guests, crew and local communities the company’s ships will visit.

A dedicated task force, with the input and support of external medical experts, developed the protocol with new MSC Cruises specific operating procedures. These procedures go beyond the actual regional and national guidelines and effectively set a new standard, according to the company.

In addition, independent maritime corporation, RINA has verified that the protocol meets European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Guidance. The EMSA guidance incorporates additional health standards, including those from the EU Healthy Gateways Joint Action.

The Grandiosa vessel boasts 1,167sq m of retail space — 50% more than sister ship MSC Bellissima — and 12 standalone boutiques.

The protocol itself includes several pillars relating to precautionary measures and response planning. These include the universal screening of guests prior to embarkation (temperature check, health questionnaire and Covid-19 swab test) and elevated sanitation and cleaning measures.

These measures are supported by the introduction of new cleaning methods, use of hospital-grade disinfectant products and sanitation of the air board with UV-C light technology that kills 99.97% of microbes.

Social distancing will be enabled through the reduction of overall guest capacity on board. This will allow more space for guests (about 10sq m per person based on 70% overall capacity).

Venue capacity will be reduced, activities will be modified to allow for smaller groups and guests are urged to pre-book services and activities to manage numbers.

When social distancing is not possible in places such as lifts, guests will be asked to wear a face mask. These will be provided daily in the cabin and be available around the ship.

MSC Grandiosa was christened in Hamburg last year on the fourth and final night of celebrations in the Blue Port.

Enhanced medical facilities and services with highly qualified trained staff will be available, with the necessary equipment to test, evacuate and treat suspected Covid-19 patients. Guests with symptoms can be treated at the onboard Medical Center.

Ongoing health monitoring will be conducted throughout the cruise. Guests and crew, for example, will have their temperature checked daily, either when they return from ashore or at dedicated stations around the ships.

During the initial phase of operations, guests will only go ashore as part of organised MSC Cruises excursions. The purpose of this is to provide a further enhanced measure of protection and to avoid health risks among guests.

Transfers will be properly sanitised with adequate space and tour guides and drivers will undergo health screening and wear appropriate PPE.


A contingency response plan will be activated if a suspected case is identified, in close cooperation with national health authorities. The suspected case and close contacts will follow isolation measures and may be disembarked according to local and national regulations.

Adrian Pittaway, Head of Retail, MSC Cruises.

MSC Cruises’ health and safety measures are supported by guest technology to facilitate a contactless experience. The purpose of this is to provide guests with important and relevant information as and when they need it.

Guests on board both ships will be supported by the MSC for Me app. The app will support and facilitate the new health and safety measures and can be used to book services, manage their daily activities on board and source information.

Each guest and crew member on board MSC Grandiosa will be provided with a complimentary MSC for Me wristband. This facilitates contactless transactions around the ship and provides contact and proximity tracing.

In the meantime, guests will continue to enjoy the experiences that have been central to an MSC Cruises holiday. These include, theatre shows, world-class dining, family activities and boutique shopping and events.  Changes and adaptations will be implemented to ensure their health and safety is protected.

Onboard activities and entertainment have been redesigned to enable smaller group sizes. Guests must also book in advance. A rich programme of activities will be available throughout the cruise, including themed events, fun games, talent shows, fitness and dance.

Children’s activities and live family game shows will be available daily.New spaces on board will be reserved for children and teenagers as the youth areas will operate at a reduced capacity. Parents on excursions can still leave children with the youth staff by booking one day in advance.

Lunch and dinner with the youth staff will continue to take place, along with the most popular kids’ activities such as MasterChef At Sea Juniors, MSC Dance Crew, the Cabin 12006 family game show & web series and Lego experience.

MSC Cruises will continue offering a wide choice of live entertainment around the ship. The capacity of the theatre will be reduced to ensure responsible social distancing and the entertainment schedule will be adapted so guests can still enjoy a variety of award-winning shows.

Finally, restaurants, bars and lounges, will allow for social distancing and all meals and drinks will be served to guests at their table. The buffet restaurant will offer a new service concept and guest flow to ensure social distancing.

Instead of self-service, guests can select what they want and the food will be plated and handed to them to take back to their table. This will ensure the highest level of health and hygiene measures are followed. Guests will be able to access restaurant and bar menus from their personal mobile device by scanning a QR code, in order to ensure a  contactless experience.


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