MSC Cruises Builds ‘Blue Ribbon’ Expert Group to Develop New Health and Safety Protocols

MSC Cruises is preparing for its eventual return to service with a new set of health a safety protocols that will help guarantee a safe return to service for both its crew and its guests.

MSC this week announced the formation of a new group of experts in the fields of medicine, public health and sanitation, hotel services, HVAC, and more that will help MSC build its new set of enhanced protocol and procedures for the new COVID-19 world. MSC is calling the group the Blue Ribbon COVID Expert Group and, according to Executive Chairman Pierfransesco Vago, the group will “have competency to review policy initiatives, technical innovations or operational measures related to COVID-19.”

The group “will remain in place long beyond our return to operations to ensure we benefit from their know-how and input even as the situation continues to evolve and more data become available.” It will have a hand in forming the new protocols that will touch every part of the cruise experience, from booking and check-in to disembarkation.

The group includes:

– Professor Christakis Hadjichristodoulou, professor of hygiene and epidemiology in the faculty of medicine and vice president, School of Health Sciences at the University of Thessaly in Greece.

– Professor Stephan J. Harbarth, hospital epidemiologist, infectious diseases specialist and head of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) and faculty of medicine.

– Doctor Ian Norton, a specialist emergency physician with post graduate qualifications in Surgery, International Health and Tropical Medicine, currently managing director of Respond Global, formerly the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Medical Team Initiative program from 2014 until January 2020.

MSC said it will be announcing its new set of protocols soon. The protocols were built in cooperation with the new group and with guidelines set by groups including the World Health Organization, the EU Healthy Gateways Joint Action, and European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

MSC, which has suspended sailings at least through the end of July, also said in its statement that “in the U.S. the company has indicated that it will only return to service once the necessary approvals have been received from the relevant local and national authorities in the U.S., including the CDC, as well as across the region where the ships will operate.” (photo: MSC)