Report: Passengers Leave MSC Ship in Miami Despite Prior COVID-19 Case

MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia berthed at PortMiami, March 16 (Ken Muskat / Twitter)

By The Maritime Executive 03-16-2020 08:14:00

Though a former passenger had tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week, thousands of passengers from the cruise ship MSC Meraviglia were allowed to disembark in Miami on Sunday without any health screening or quarantine measures, according to a new report published by the Miami Herald on Monday. 

On March 8, the former passenger departed the vessel in Miami and traveled to Canada. On March 12, the Public Health Agency of Canada told MSC Cruises that this individual had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Miami Herald. The MSC Meraviglia was already at sea again, carrying 100 of the same passengers from the previous voyage and an additional complement of new passengers.

As a precautionary measure, the company quarantined seven crew members who had come into contact with the known case of the disease, and the current passengers were informed of the siguation. However, MSC did not hold the vessel at sea until further testing was performed: the MSC Meraviglia berthed in Miami on schedule on March 15, discharging all passengers. 

“When I say there was no check, there was none whatsoever. I expected us to have some kind of a screening. They didn’t do a single thing. We walked straight off the ship. There wasn’t any check on anyone for anything," a former passenger told the Miami Herald. 

At a press conference Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis indicated that his offices were not informed that a former passenger of MSC Meraviglia had tested positive. "You'll have to ask the port on that. I mean, I think that CDC is screening the folks or involved with if there's health issues on the cruise that we at the state would be alerted, but we were not alerted," Gov. DeSantis told reporters. 

A spokeswoman for MSC told the Miami Herald that the company had worked with the port, the CDC and Canadian health authorities, and that it had followed all appropriate health protocols. "MSC Meraviglia received clearance after health authorities reviewed all the necessary documentation regarding the health of passengers and crew on board today and throughout the cruise," she said. 

In most previous incidents involving known cases of coronavirus among former cruise ship passengers - like those involving Grand Princess and Diamond Princess - the vessel was held offshore while testing was conducted. One notable exception occurred aboard the MSC cruise ship MSC Opera in the Mediterranean: earlier this month, after a former passenger tested positive, the MSC Opera continued her voyage and was cleared to make a routine port call at Corfu, Greece.