MSC Opera Status: 200 crew onboard, 7 positive for COVID-19 at home, 13 in quarantine on the ship

Mar 21, 2020

Around 200 crew members are stuck on the cruise ship MSC Opera docked in the port of Genoa, Italy. The number of quarantined crew members has risen from 7 people since March 18, to 13 isolated crew in just two days. As the situation is getting progressively worse in Italy, the crew are stuck on the ship until they get clearance from the Italian Health Authorities and test negative for the virus. MSC Opera Captain has informed its remaining crew that they will manage to test up to 20 crew members in a public health facility in Genoa, in order to receive official clearance for onward travel. This means that it will take at least 10 days for the crew to be tested. Until then the crew will have to follow strict rules and always wear a mask when working or out in public areas, each one will receive a single cabin accommodation as well as time slots arranged for meal times.

MSC Opera is the first MSC cruise ship to stop operations since the vessel arrived in Genoa after finishing its Eastern Mediterranean voyage on March 10. The ship was in the headlines after Austrian Health Authorities notified MSC Opera on March 4, that one of their citizens who was sailing onboard from February 17 to 28, tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning home. At that time the ship was in the port of Piraeus, Greece when they received the news and the captain informed all passengers to return immediately back on board, canceling all the excursions in Athens.

The Greek health authorities gave MSC Opera permission to sail from Piraeus, Greece, and continue its journey to its next scheduled port in Corfu, Greece. There are no passengers or crew members currently on board the ship who have reported any flu-like symptoms.” said MSC Cruises in a statement.

The ship was denied port entry in Valetta by the government of Malta who said the decision followed after "public alarm raised by misleading information" and blamed an unnamed local media outlet. "Despite the established facts, the Maltese government and MSC Cruises have decided to approve the re-routing of cruise liner MSC Opera so as to avoid further concern among the Maltese public," the government informed.

The final port of call was in Messina before MSC Opera docked in Genoa, Italy on March 10, and canceled the following voyages due to the Coronavirus outbreak in Italy. Upon arrival in Genoa, all passengers and most of the crew disembarked the ship.

On March 15, when returning home, one of MSC Opera crew members was confirmed positive for COVID-19 when test was done upon arrival at the airport in Japan. After receiving the news from their Japanese counterparts, Italian health authorities notified MSC Cruises of positive results, and sent the following notification:

“We were informed today that a crew member who landed on March 15 from the MSC Opera has tested positive for the COVID 19 test. Therefore we invite you to monitor your health conditions and to inform the health official in case of any symptoms according to the instructions given by the Italian Government and adopted by the local authorities.

For more information, please visit Thank you for your active collaboration, best regards.”

Here is the same notification in Italian:

Salute letter to MSC Opera

Three days later on March 18, guests who had sailed on the final MSC Opera Voyage received a letter from MSC Cruises that 5 French nationals sailing between February 29 and March 10 voyage, tested positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival home: “This letter is to inform you that the French Public Health authorities have just notified us that five guests that cruised on MSC Opera between February 29 and March 10 tested positive for COVID-19 this week, after disembarking between March 9 and 10.”

 Here is the full letter sent to the MSC Opera guests:

MSC Opera Letter to Passengers covid-19

There has been a lot going on the ship that the stress level among the remaining crew is already at maximum level and all they want is to leave the ship as soon as possible.

quarantine on cruise ship

In a letter posted on March 18, the Captain has informed its crew about the current situation saying:

In the past 24 hours, we have been in close contact with the Italian Health Authorities and we are hopeful our actions will speed up the process for you. WE have agreed with the Authorities that every day, up to 20 crew members can be tested in a public health facility in Genoa, to receive official clearance for onward travel.

As the situation is fluid and the workload of medical staff in Italy is currently extremely high, we may need some patience and flexibility. We will contact you shortly with a precise date for your test ashore and your disembarkation.

Until you have been tested and cleared by the Italian Health Authorities, you are not allowed to leave the ship. During this time, we will make your stay as safe and comfortable as possible. While you continue to finalize work activities on the ship, please remember to take the bellow measures into account to protect your health:

- All crew onboard always must wear a mouth mask when working and when out in public areas.

- Each one of you will receive a single accommodation during your remaining days on board.

- Time slots will be arranged for meal times and posted as soon as possible.

- We will provide free water.

- Free social media packages work all of you until your disembarkation will be granted.

I also wanted to let you know that all crew members on board the ship are in good health and no-one is showing flu-like symptoms. Also, I know many of you are thinking about our seven colleagues who are currently quarantined and we are taking additional measures to support and protect them. We are checking their health condition and temperature twice per day and they are in good health too/. Please join me in sending them positive thoughts."

"I was supposed to disembark today, but the captain announced to come crew purser. When we come to crew purser the crew purser told us that the disembarking of crew member will be canceled. We are already stressed here and today there are 13 crew members in isolation area on Deck 4" reports one crew member.