MSC Meraviglia crew not allowed to disembark in New York. New CBP regulation?

Oct 11, 2019

After the transatlantic crossing from Kiel, Germany, following stops in Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia the cruise ship MSC Meraviglia finally arrived in New York on 7th of October. The news was broadcasted by all mainstream media as the vessel become the largest ship with 4,488 guests to ever dock in New York. However, as we were informed by several crew members onboard, out of 1500 crew working on the ship only 38 employees were allowed to go ashore.

According to the announcement placed on the ship’s crew information board the reason why the crew was not allowed to disembark in New York is because of a regulation issued by CBP – United States Costumes and Border Protection. 

The announcement reads:

“Attention All Crew

Please be informed that as per CBP Instructions the only crew allowed to go ashore during our call in New York are the crew with 6 contracts with MSC in the USA, no exceptions to be done for no one until further notice.

Also, please be informed that this is not fault of the Crew Purser or the HRO but a CBP regulation.”

At the end of the second paper with the names of the crew allowed to go ashore in New York reads “Also all Canadian & American crew are allowed to go ashore.

As the largest cruise ship ever to visit New York stayed overnight in the Big Apple this meant two days onboard for the majority of the crew without a chance to disembark. Only people who are working on cruise ships will understand the frustration of the crew, especially when not allowed onshore after a transatlantic voyage with many days at sea.

This announcement is quite strange and remains to be seen if this will apply only for New York or for the rest of the US ports. Will this apply only for MSC Cruises crew or other cruise lines as well? Is this only one-time restriction by CBP?

MSC Meraviglia started the North America season with three cruises departing from New York to New England and Canada and one repositioning voyage to her new homeport in Miami. MSC Merviglia next scheduled arrival in New York City is on October 18, and remains to be seen if all the crew will be allowed to go ashore then.

On March 17, 2019, the crew of the cruise ship MSC Divina were also not permitted to disembark in New York after one crew member failed to report back onboard while the vessel was in Port Miami.

cruise ship crew open deck

Back then the crew member said “Captain decided all crew can’t go outside, in the morning when the Ship arrived in the NY.  We are very disappointed and angry with the man who deserted the ship. We hope tomorrow the Captain will change his mind. So we can go ashore in the morning.”

Update: Apparently the crew disembarking restrictions in New York apply for other cruise lines as well. After we posted this article Norwegian Cruise Line crew member says that they are also not allowed to go ashore in New York unless they are US citizens or have 6 contracts with the cruise line.

"Hey Crew Center, the article about MSC employees not being allowed off the ship in New York is the same as on NCL. Apparently it is industry-wide and affects all cruise lines entering the port of New York. Anyone on their first to fifth contract cannot have shore leave. Which means 95% of most ships!

However, Canadians are also not allowed to disembark, which is different to MSC. Only US citizens and LPRs are allowed shore leave on NCL". says the crew member.

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