Former MSC Cruise Ship Passenger Diagnosed with Coronavirus

MSC Opera (file image courtesy MSC)

Published Mar 4, 2020 7:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

About 2,000 passengers aboard the cruise ship MSC Opera have left Piraeus and are back at sea after a former guest tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

"We have been contacted by the Austrian Health Authorities who have informed us that a previous passenger who sailed with us last week on MSC Opera has been diagnosed with COVID-19. The male passenger, of Austrian nationality, disembarked from MSC Opera in Genoa, Italy, on Friday morning 28 February, and is currently back in Austria," Captain Pietro Esposito told passengers in a letter. "All passengers and crew are requested to remain on board until we have further clarity on the matter."

Capt. Esposito stressed that there is "no indication that suggests there may be an issue currently on board MSC Opera and there are no cases that suggest there may be a case of COVID-19.'' 

One passenger, American national Mike Knotts, said that he and his wife were on a shore excursion when they were called back to the vessel. "We were told that there was a security problem and we had to return to the ship," Knotts told the Daily Mirror. "We're now on our way to Corfu but we don't even know if we will be able to get off the ship."

Port calls at Limassol and Rhodes have been canceled and replaced with calls in Corfu and Malta, according to a bulletin provided by Knotts. The updated ship's schedule indicates plans for a resumption of the normal itinerary on March 8. 

"We shared with the local health authorities the ship’s full medical records as well as the medical and travel history records of the former Austrian passenger," MSC said in a statement. "The Greek health authorities gave MSC Opera permission around 13:00 CET to sail from Piraeus, Greece, and continue [her] journey to [her] next scheduled port in Corfu, Greece. No additional health measures were required to be taken and the ship is currently sailing as planned."