MSC Cruises has started a fleet-wide Covid-19 vaccination programme for all its crew.

Crew of flagship MSC Virtuosa will be vaccinated ahead of the ship’s maiden voyage from May 20 around the UK from Southampton, according to the line.

The line plans to prioritise crew on ten ships earmarked for summer 2021 cruises in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, those due to restart in the Caribbean out of US ports as well as others that are gearing up for their restart.

The ten ships have confirmed itineraries and ports of call in Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, Germany and the UK with plans to add France, Spain and more, as more countries open their borders and relax travel restrictions.

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However, MSC did not disclose how it intends to source the vaccinations and how many crew members are to receive the required jabs over what timeframe.

The company said: “The plan is for all MSC Cruises’ crew on board operational vessels, as well as ships preparing to restart in parts of the world the company has served traditionally, to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“It has been developed and will be delivered against with the support of a number of national government authorities, destinations and private sector entities.”    

The first step of the rollout saw MSC Bellissima’s captain Giuseppe Maresca and all crew completing vaccinations on Friday.

“This becomes an additional core element of the company’s industry-leading health and safety protocol that has already supported MSC Cruises operations since its first ship returned to service in August last year,” the company added.

MSC Cruises resumed international sailings in August with MSC Grandiosa sailing from Genoa.  The company has since carried some 65,000 passengers.

MSC Seaside has now joined MSC Grandiosa for weekly seven-night cruises in the western Mediterranean.

Chief executive Gianni Onorato said: “As our ships prepare to welcome more and more guests over the coming weeks and months, we are pleased to announce the start of a comprehensive plan of vaccinations for all of our crew.

“Our aim is of adding a further level of protection for both themselves and the guests they will welcome for their holidays as we lead the way in the industry’s restart this summer.

“Our health and safety protocol last year spearheaded a safe resumption of cruising in the global industry and our huge vaccination programme for all of our crew further demonstrates our commitment to their wellbeing, of our guests and of the communities that our fleet of ships will visit in the months ahead.

“We focused and invested heavily in a health and safety protocol last year and worked relentlessly to engage and gain approval from a range of authorities to return to cruising safely and responsibly. Similarly, we have taken this approach to vaccinations for our crew – plan, prepare and perform.”

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