Cruise Critic's Managing Editor UK Adam Coulter chats with MSC Grandiosa's Hotel Director Giuseppe Pane in this live Q&A about Grandiosa's COVID-19 protocols, new parties and events onboard, and how the crew and passengers feel to be back onboard.
Adam Coulter: Hello cruisers! My name is Adam Coulter and I'm the Managing Editor of Cruise Critic right here in the UK. I am delighted to catch up with Giuseppe Pane, coming to you live from MSC Grandiosa somewhere in the Mediterranean. Welcome, Giuseppe!
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Giuseppe Pane: Hello I am Giuseppe Pane, Hotel Director of MSC Grandiosa.
AC: So let me start by asking you a little bit about the health and safety protocols onboard the ship, as I'm sure that that's something that our viewers would love to know more about.
GP: Probably to explain it all, I would need about 2-3 hours. But, briefly, it consists in mainly keeping social distances between crew and the passengers, avoiding contact with external people, from outside the ship -- for example, the excursions are only guided by bus drivers and guides that have done the test, and it's not possible to have any contact during the excursion with other people ashore. So it's a very protected excursion.
GP: Every guest and crew member is wearing a watch -- let's say a watch -- a tracker of close contact. So this would allow us that, in any situation, we could in every moment know what person the guest or the crew member came in close contact.
GP: And then, logically, everybody is wearing the masks. We are taking the temperature of crew and passengers once a day, every day. There are COVID tests done before the guests embark; during the cruise we do another one to be sure. And many, many other measures but I repeat: They are all made in a way to not really let the guests feel all these precautions.
AC: But tell me -- do they affect the fun that passengers can have onboard? Because MSC is all about the parties, isn't it?
GP: Yes, there are many activities that we had to to cancel because they would not allow us to guarantee the social distancing and, logically, the safety and health of the guests. But while we canceled the White Party, Flower Glory, Oktoberfest and many, many other parties that were really appreciated by the guests, we introduced a list of new activities that guarantee social distancing, but, at the same time, we reduce the number of participation of the guests. And the interesting thing is that we created -- and are still creating -- some entertainment activities. And not only that, our new activities on the ships and the guests are really liking them, that we will continue this activity even in the future. So it's, on one side, a big opportunity for all of us to grow and to introduce new activities -- a really interesting moment, I think.
AC: And now tell us a little bit about the type of passenger that you have on the ship. I'm assuming it's all returning passengers.
GP: Yes, all right. This is a very nice point, because at the moment, mostly, logically we are enjoying our repeaters -- our veteran cruisers -- that are coming back onboard so it's a really great moment for all of us. We are meeting them, you know. And now to meet all these people again here together onboard is something really, really particular, and an incredible moment for all of us. Another interesting point is that we are having many new cruisers -- first time onboard MSC that are coming here onboard of the MSC. Being nearly one of the few ships sailing around the world, you know, to experience our product and to see what is going onboard. And they are coming onboard interested in cruising, but at the same time, you know, they want to get away from home where there are so many limitations. And here onboard we have the very high safety protocols, safety and health protocol, and they are able to enjoy, you know, because many activities are really giving them the possibility to have a cruise experience that allows them to get very close to the normal. So this is a nice moment, you know. They're all surprised and enjoying themselves. And the first thing is they feel safe and healthy. They see that our protocols, the activities the things that we are doing, are really done in a way that safety and health and the protection from COVID-19 is guaranteed.
AC: And finally, tell us in your own words, Giuseppe what is it like to be back sailing onboard for you personally?
GP: It's a great moment. Look, it's a great moment after all these months waiting, after this difficult moment that I think we all felt around the world. To be back in my house -- in my home -- here onboard, where we see friends, see our crew members, and see our guests. It is a very, very particular moment. For me, it's a big joy, and you know it has allowed to us to feel good, to work, to do what we really like, you know. This is a great moment for us -- it's a great moment for us all. And, believe me: I think it's not only me, but I see that the guests and crew members are experiencing the same feeling. To see the light, the possibility sic -- this is a great moment for us all, I think.
AC: Thank you so much, Giuseppe. Really appreciate you for taking the time to speak with us, and I must say -- staring at the sea out of that porthole window really makes me want to get back on the ships.
AC: So that's it, guys! Remember if you liked this week's video, please click that "Like" button below and tell us what you think in the comments. Thank you so much -- see you soon. Bye.