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Cruise ship heads to Mexico after rejection by Jamaica, Cayman on virus fears

A ship operated by MSC Cruises is sailing for Cozumel, Mexico, on Wednesday after authorities in two Caribbean ports effectively denied it disembarkation over coronavirus fears.

A cruise ship by MSC Cruises was rejected by both Jamaica and Cayman.
(Photo: cubatrade.org)

On Tuesday, Jamaican authorities delayed a disembarkation decision on the MSC Meraviglia for “many hours,” according to a statement from the company. Overnight, Grand Cayman authorities denied the ship disembarkation in Georgetown.

“In both instances, the ship was effectively turned away simply based on fears,” the company said.

Cozumel is the MSC Meraviglia’s next scheduled port of call.

MSC Cruises, which says it doesn’t have any evidence of coronavirus on the ship, said it was in touch with local health authorities in Mexico to ensure that their decision on disembarkation is factually based.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship, operated by Carnival Corp., sits docked as members of media stand in Yokohama, Japan, on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

MSC Cruises said its medical records show one case of seasonal flu in a crew member, who boarded the ship in Miami after travelling from Manila.

The episode is the latest example of a cruise ship seemingly trapped at sea over coronavirus concerns, as governments seek to keep cases away from their shores. The incidents have hit consumer sentiment during peak bookings season, battered cruise stocks and prompted companies to reduce profit estimates for the year.

Until now, the showdowns over cruise-ship concerns have taken place in Asia and Europe. The Meraviglia debacle strikes much closer to home for US and Latin American authorities. Brazil just confirmed the first coronavirus case in the latter region.

Geneva-based MSC Cruises is part of MSC, a closely held shipping and logistics company.