Portugal has taken in cruise ship MSC Fantasia (IMO 9359791), whose voyage was cancelled as part of the March 13th decision by cruise lines to cut short long-distance voyages.
The Portuguese authorities began testing passengers for coronavirus. The vessel had arrived from Brazil, but its other European stopovers were cancelled. The final destination of the ship, which can carry 4,363 passengers and 1,370 crew, had originally been Genoa in Italy.
There were 1,338 passengers, all of whom would be tested. Those that test negative will be disembarked and repatriated. Most of the passengers were from the EU, the UK, Brazil or Australia.
Authorities in Portugal were coordinating the repatriation efforts with embassies of various countries.
There were 27 Portuguese citizens, plus some with residency permits, who were being tested on Sunday afternoon March 22nd. No suspected cases have been reported so far on the ship, which left Rio de Janeiro on March 9th.
The Ministry said that “beginning on Tuesday … after verification by the health authority, the rest of the passengers will disembark and will be escorted to the Humberto Delgado airport to board humanitarian flights to their home countries”.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab tweeted on Sunday he had discussed with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva the repatriation of UK citizens from the MSC Fantasia.
2008-built, Panama-flagged, 137,936 gt MSC Fantasia is owned by Fantasia Bail SNC care of manager MSC Crociere SA (MSC Kreuzfahrten AG) of Basel, Switzerland. ISM manager is MSC Cruise management UK Ltd of Uxbridge, UK. It is entered with UK Club (Area Group E1 – EMEA) on behalf of MSC Cruise Management (UK) Ltd.