MSC Meraviglia Refused Entry to Two Ports After Crewmember Catches Flu

MSC Meraviglia (file image)

Published Feb 26, 2020 5:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

The cruise ship MSC Meraviglia has been refused entry to ports in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands after one crewmember tested positive for the common flu, according to MSC. 

“The crewmember had traveled to Miami from Manila, via direct connection in Istanbul,” MSC said in a statement. “He developed symptoms of common flu and tested positive to Type A influenza after he visited the ship’s 24/7 Medical Center while already on board. He has no other symptoms.”

Only three cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the Philippines and there have been zero cases in Turkey. No travel restrictions are in place for either country. However, out of an abundance of caution, officials in Jamaica and in the Cayman Islands decided to prohibit the ship from docking. 

"A cruise [ship] with over 4,500 passengers and over 1,600 crew members was today . . . denied access to the port of call in Ocho Rios, St. Ann. The vessel arrived at approximately 0830 and upon inspection by the port health officials, it was discovered that a crew member was placed in isolation on board," the Jamaican Ministry of Health and Wellness said in a statement Tuesday. “The crew member had a cough, fever and associated muscle pains with a travel history to a country of interest relating to the Covid-19."

After Jamaica's decision, the Cayman Islands Ministry of Health reviewed the medical details of the crewmember who has been isolated on board and "one other member of the ship's complement who is not well." The two individuals appear to be in stable condition, but the Cayman Islands has opted not to allow MSC Meraviglia to dock. 

“In an abundance of caution, in order to provide protection to the health and safety of the residents of the Cayman Islands, the Government has denied permission for the cruise ship to call on Grand Cayman as previously scheduled," said Caymans Minister for Health Hon. Dwayne Seymour.

SC Meraviglia's experience bears a small amount of similarity to the cruise ship Westerdam's last voyage in Asia. Westerdam called in Hong Kong at the end of January, the same time period in which many Asian nations began imposing travel bans on individuals arriving from China. She was forbidden access to ports in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Guam, Thailand and Vietnam before finding approval to disembark in Cambodia. Shortly afterwards, her former passengers' movements were restricted due to a scare involving one individual who tested positive for coronavirus; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control ultimately determined that the test results were erroneous and that the passenger did not have the disease.