(12:45 p.m. EDT) -- MSC Meraviglia, one of the largest cruise ships in the world with 4,475-passengers, this week completed a test cruise from Miami, and promptly received approval from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to resume sailings in August.
The simulated sailing had 312 fully vaccinated passengers onboard, and they were MSC employees and their friends and family. All helped test the ship’s health and safety protocols including mask-wearing indoors, social distancing and enhanced sanitization procedures, during a three-night simulated voyage that returned to Miami on July 20.
The guests participated in activities and entertainment "throughout the ship" including dining in the main dining room and specialty restaurants. They also spent time on shore in Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the cruise line’s private Bahamas destination, as well as on "immersive protected shore excursions" in Nassau, MSC said.
Test sailings are required by the CDC for ships that do not commit to meeting a threshold of 95 percent vaccinated passengers and crew. MSC is encouraging passengers to be vaccinated, but officials have also indicated they do not want to discourage the family crowd from cruising – including younger kids who do not yet qualify for vaccines. All passengers, vaccinated and unvaccinated, are welcome.
MSC plans to resume sailing from the U.S. with MSC Meraviglia on August 2. The ship will initially do three- and four-night cruises to the Bahamas, and add seven-night cruises the Bahamas and Caribbean beginning on September 18. All the sailings are from Miami.
Our Favorite Things Aboard Viking Venus
Regent Seven Seas Splendor Returns to the Seas
Silversea's New S.A.L.T. Program
Wonder of the Seas Construction Update: Sea Trials
NCL's Restart: What It's Like On The First Norwegian Cruise Ship Back in 16 Months
Cruise Critic and JJ Cruise : Our Experience Onboard Celebrity Edge (June 2021)
Here's What It's Like Onboard the First Large Cruise Ship to Alaska in 21 Months
LIVE Q&A: Cruise Critic and Emma Cruises Chat About All Things Cruise
Our Celebrity Silhouette Cruise Experience: March 2020 vs. July 2021
Cruise Executives Wish Cruise Critic a Happy 25th Anniversary
Freedom of the Seas: What's It Like Onboard a Test Cruise? (Cruise Critic & Royal Caribbean Blog
Q&A with Celebrity Cruises' Captain Kate McCue (2021)
Back on Celebrity Silhouette: Here's What It's Like On One Of Our Favorite Ships 15 Months Later
Freedom Of The Seas Resumes Sailing With New Rules
Cruise Critic | EatSleepCruise: What's It Like Onboard Celebrity Edge?
‘Top Chef’ Winner Kristen Kish Joins Holland America Line’s Award-winning Culinary Council
Celebrity Apex -- Video Tour of The Magic Carpet
Q&A: Cruisers and Crew Chat About The Joy of Cruising's Return
Celebrity Apex -- Eden
Celebrity Apex -- The Retreat
Celebrity Apex -- Video Tour of the Infinite Veranda Cabin
Q&A with Celebrity Apex's Cruise Director
Celebrity Apex -- Pools & Resort Deck
Celebrity Apex -- Embarkation Process (2021)
Live From Adventure of the Seas: What's the Same, What's Different and What's Better?
Here's What We Packed For Our Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 2021)
5 Reasons MSC Cruises' Yacht Club Is Worth The Splurge
Celebrity to Restart from U.S. Homeport, PLUS Royal Caribbean Given Green Light for Test Cruises!
MSC Virtuosa Ship Tour: What It's Like Onboard MSC's Newest Ship (May 2021)
LIVE From MSC Virtuosa! Embarkation, the Buffet, COVID Protocols and MORE!
CRUISE NEWS Countdown! This Week's Top 5 Stories
NEWS: CDC Loosens Mask Restrictions; Norwegian Reveals NEW Ship Class
NEWS: What Does the Latest CDC Guidance Mean? We Explain, Cruisers & Cruise Lines React
Alaska 2021: Inside Passage Businesses Talk About A Devastating Season Without Cruise Tourists
CRUISE NEWS: Two Brand-New Cruise Ships From Disney And Celebrity Revealed, See Photos!
BREAKING NEWS: CDC Says Cruises From the U.S. Could Start by "Mid-July"
CRUISE NEWS: Two States Sue CDC Over Cruise Restart, New MSC Virtuosa Photos & More
CRUISE NEWS: The CDC Battle Over Cruise Continues!
NEWS: Norwegian Makes HUGE Waves with Restart Plans (Bonus! Live From an Alaska Cruise)
Where Can You Cruise To -- And From -- In Summer 2021?
Odyssey of the Seas -- From Steel Cutting to Delivery 2021
CRUISE NEWS: The CDC's Silence And Where Vaccinated Passengers Can Sail in 2021 -- VIDEO
BONUS NEWS! Royal Caribbean, Celebrity to Resume Cruising in June
BREAKING: A Big Cruise Line Says Guests Need the Jab, Another Announces U.K. Return
NEWS: This Cruise Line is Returning to Cruise SOON!
Odyssey of the Seas' Debut in Israel, and Where Royal Caribbean Might Restart Next
Video Of Odyssey Of The Seas Conveyance March 2021
Cruise Restart, Rising Cruise Prices & The Vaccine's Impact On Bookings (Video)
Exciting Disney Cruise News, More Vaccine Mandates & MSC Seashore Sneak Peek (VIDEO)
Video Q&A With MSC Grandiosa's Hotel Director, Giuseppe Pane
Why Lines Aren't Canceling Alaska Cruises, Robot News and More
CDC Mask Mandate, Cruise Vaccine News and Canada's Cruise Ban Through 2022
Cruisers and Cruise Lines Talk Vaccines, Big Azamara News and More
Royal Caribbean Group Sells Popular Cruise Line, Mandatory Vaccines and More
Exciting Cruise News From Carnival Corp., Pause Extensions & More
Exciting New Ships in 2021 - This Week in Cruise News
Rudi Sodamin Makes A Special, Thanksgiving-themed "Food Faces" Video For Cruise Critic
Coin Ceremony For Celebrity Cruises' New Ship, Celebrity Beyond
Cruising In Maine During COVID-19, On the Only Ship Sailing in the U.S.
Former Cruise Ship Captain Offers "Ghost Tours" of Empty Cruise Liners in South England
Variety Cruises' Galileo, The First Eastern Mediterranean Cruise In The COVID Era
Royal Caribbean Group Announces E-muster, Keyless Cabin Check-in And Other App Improvements
Drone Footage Of MSC Grandiosa Docked In Genoa For First Sailing Since The COVID-19 Pandemic
MSC Cruises - Smart Future Of Guest Experiences
First Look At Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady
Bolt - Top Deck Roller-Coaster at Sea on Carnival Mardi Gras
Norwegian Encore - Hull Art Reveal - Artist Eduardo Arranz Bravo
Disney Cruise Line Announces Disney Wish
First Look At MSC Bellissima
Virgin Voyages Unveils Beach Club And Entertainment
Royal Caribbean Odyssey Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection To Debut In 2020
Virgin Voyages Reveals Suite Design New Cruise Ship
Celebrity Edge Sneak Peek: Why You Should Be Excited About Celebrity Cruises' Newest Ship
Celebrity Edge Shipyard Hyperlapse Tour
Marella Cruises Cast Members Rehearse New Show Debut
Shipyard Tour: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas Gets Its Finishing Touches -- Video
Shaquille "Shaq" O'neal Named Chief Fun Officer Of Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line's "Choose Fun" Commercial
MSC Seaside Video Tour – An Inside Look At MSC's Cruise Ship
Live From MSC Seaside: A Cruise Ship Designed For The Outdoors
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum Of The Seas Celebrates Keel Laying
Sneak Peak At Symphony Of The Seas
MSC Meraviglia Dining Guide
Spectrum Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
MSC Meraviglia Ship Tour
The Himalayan Bridge On MSC Meraviglia - Ropes Course POV Video
Pictures of MSC Seaside: Before and After
Anthem Of The Seas Welcomes Gigi The Giraffe
HRH Prince Phillip Visits Cunard's Fleet
Royal Rendezvous: 3 Cunard Queens Arrive In Southampton
Celebrity Silhouette's Conveyance (2011)
All crew are fully vaccinated or are in the process of receiving their second dose after having just joined the ship and still within their initial quarantine period before beginning their onboard duties.
The 4,345-passenger MSC Divina will be the line’s second ship to return to cruising from the U.S., with three-, four- and seven-night sailings beginning September 16. The cruises will be from Port Canaveral, a new homeport for the line.
MSC relaunched sailings in the Mediterranean in August 2020, although operations were suspended during later COVID-19 surges. Plans are to have more than half of the fleet back in service by the end of the summer, officials said.
Health and Safety Measures
MSC ships will sail from the U.S. with different rules for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers – similar to measures the line introduced in the Mediterranean.
Officials said that MSC Cruise’s health and safety plan is designed to prevent and mitigate risk of transmission and also "adapt to a changing environment and immediately respond in the event of any suspect cases to prevent spread."
MSC has boosted its cleaning and hygiene measures to include deep clearing using hospital-grade disinfectant products. Guests will be encouraged to wash their hands frequently through their cruise.
Medical facility enhancements include testing facilities and dedicated isolation staterooms for any suspected cases and their close contacts. If there is an identified case of COVID-19, the person and their close contacts may be disembarked, the line said.
All crew members will be tested for COVID-19 up to three times prior to embarkation, prior to disembarkation and weekly during their contract, the line said.
At The Pier
There is a temperature check at embarkation for all passengers.
If you are vaccinated, you will undergo a health screening before embarkation that a health questionnaire and swab COVID-19 antigen test.
If you are not vaccinated, you will also be required to show proof of a negative RT-PCR NAP test result taken with 72 hours of departure. In addition, they will undergo mandatory testing throughout the voyage.
Prior to cruising, unvaccinated guests will also be required to purchase both an MSC Cruise Travel & COVID-19 Reassurance plan and a travel insurance plan with coverage for COVID-19. The cost of the plans was not disclosed.
All guests will be required to wear masks indoors in public areas, except when seated at socially distanced tables at dining venues, bars and lounges. Masks are only required outdoors if there is a crowd.
To assure social distancing, some activities will be restricted to smaller group sizes, with pre-booking required (at no extra cost). This includes shows, entertainment and the Kids Club.
Unvaccinated guests will be subject to additional protocols that include being restricted from areas of the ship that are open only to vaccinated guests (MSC did not disclose which areas). These may also vary by ship.
All guests will be able to explore on their own or on shore excursions at Ocean Cay. In Nassau and other ports, those who are not vaccinated will only be allowed on shore only if they purchase MSC-sponsored shore excursions.