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Another cruise line pulls ship from Ocho Rios

Published:Saturday | March 7, 2020 | 12:19 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

The Ocho Rios cruise ship pier remained empty on Friday after MSC Cruise pulled its vessel, MSC Divina, from a scheduled visit, diverting it to Grand Cayman.

A source in the tourism sector told The Gleaner that information out of Miami, where the ship was docked, is that the move was a direct reaction to Jamaican authorities’ decision to deny passengers and crew from another of their vessels, MSC Meraviglia, from landing in Ocho Rios on February 25, because of concerns relating to the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

The source told The Gleaner that the cruise company “is still peeved as they believe the authorities turned back the vessel for no good reason. They say it was a simple case of a touch of the flu.”

It is reported that the crew member has since returned to work.

Health authorities said last week that a crew member on board the vessel was ill and the vessel failed to inform the authorities, as required by law.

The ship, with a capacity of more than 5,000 passengers and 1,650 crew members, was scheduled to spend nine hours in Ocho Rios.

Jamaica’s health protocol stipulates that cruise ships declare the travel history, health history, and temperature logs of passengers.

The change of schedule by MSC Cruise follows similar action by Carnival Cruise, which pulled vessels from Ocho Rios this week after one of their ships vessels was also subjected to scrutiny by Jamaican health authorities, over similar concerns.

The Ocho Rios cruise schedule for the rest of March has three MSC vessels, Seaside on March 16, Armonia on March 18, and Meraviglia on March 24.

Meanwhile, several ships are down to visit Ocho Rios next week, starting on Sunday, with the Mein Schiff 1, a vessel from Tui Cruises.

Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett announced in Parliament that the projected revenues from the hospitality industry had been revised downwards by $76 billion for fiscal year 2020-2021.