"Never before has the resilience of our business been tested so robustly. However, being a sustainable business means being able to weather this, and future storms, and MSC Cruises has risen to the challenge."

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman

Covid-19. Crisis response

As soon as we become aware of the coronavirus outbreak in China in January 2020, immediate action was taken to ensure the health and wellbeing of our guests and crew on our global fleet. 

As the pandemic spread, we continuously adjusted to restrictions set up by local port and health authorities meaning our itineraries changed and cruises were cancelled.

Pausing operations and repatriating our crews

When operations were paused in mid-March 2020, over 19,000 crew members were employed on board. With only around 1,000 crew required for minimum safe manning across the fleet, we needed to get the remainder – of over 100 nationalities – safely home. 

At this point, our ships were spread around the world in Europe, the USA, Caribbean, Brazil, UAE and South Africa. Repatriation required extensive collaboration across the business, with internal reassignment of resources to make this possible.

Crewing an empty ship

We needed to ensure that every ship remained in compliance with all the applicable safety and environmental regulations during layup, ensuring each ship maintained a minimum crew. Our safety and crisis management teams worked on revising existing protocols and developing new procedures to ensure safety and make sure our vessels’ operability was never compromised.

Restarting with our new Health & Safety protocol

Historically, our existing health and safety measures have proved successful across the fleet, with no confirmed significant outbreaks of transmitted diseases on our ships in any previous year. With the arrival of COVID-19, we carried out a complete review and expansion of existing measures to support a return to operations.


The MSC Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation, established by the Aponte family has taken swift action since the beginning of the pandemic to provide prompt support worlwide to combat Covid-19 and help mitigate its impact on disadvantaged groups.

In March 2020, with operations paused, we had donated 97 containers of food and other items that were no longer required. We worked with the MSC Foundation to distribute these to local charities to help those in need. Our efforts will continue for as long the pandemic is a threat.