February 27, 2020 - 13:49 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A ship operated by MSC Cruises is sailing for Cozumel, Mexico, Wednesday, February 26, after authorities in two Caribbean ports effectively refused to let passengers disembark over coronavirus fears.
The company said it has received “formal and final authorization” to call in Cozumel, despite an earlier report to the contrary, and expects to arrive Wednesday evening local time, Time reports.
On Tuesday, Jamaican authorities delayed a disembarkation decision on the MSC Meraviglia for “many hours,” according to a previous statement from the company. Overnight, Grand Cayman authorities denied the ship disembarkation in Georgetown. The decisions are the first virus-related denials at ports in the Americas.
“In both instances, the ship was effectively turned away simply based on fears,” the company said.
Coronavirus has already prompted the industry to dial back exposure in Asia, where companies had a relatively small but growing presence. But the Meraviglia incident — coupled with mounting cases of coronavirus in Italy — appeared to signal the potential for a broader disruption in bigger markets, exacerbating the hit to cruise stocks.
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.