MSC Cruise Ship Returns to Miami Port After Coronavirus Scare

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After being turned away by two Caribbean ports and being forced to dock in Mexico over fears of coronavirus, the MSC Cruises ship Meraviglia returned to Miami Monday with a clean bill of health.

The fear that a crew member had contracted the disease was disproven after they were diagnosed with the common seasonal flu.

MSC officials said they had the proper paperwork diagnosing the crew member, but were still denied permission to dock in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

"They did this completely based on fear," MSC's Executive Vice President, Ken Muskat, said. "We proved it was influenza A, no coronavirus whatsoever."

The cruise ship with more than 6,000 people aboard was given permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico last Wednesday.

A document from Mexico's Health Ministry said the MSC Meraviglia had been granted "free pratique," or permission to enter the Cozumel port based on the assessment that it presented no risk of spreading disease.

Passengers were originally set to tour the western Caribbean from Miami before the detour. Guests say after being asked to stay inside for their first day in Cozumel, they were finally allowed to disembark for a day.

After returning to Miami, Muskat said guests received full refunds and credit towards any future cruise.

"It's far more sensitive and serious than what we had initially thought a week ago," Muskat said.

South Florida is home to two of the three busiest ports in the United States and industry experts worry the summer months could prove difficult for travelers. Nearly 6 million passengers set sail from Port Miami in the past year aboard more than 1,200 cruise ships that docked there.

Florida Rep. Chip LaMarca, whose District 93 includes Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, said cruise lines are taking extra precautions to keep passengers safe, and said cruise lines haven't seen a drop or cancellations for ships leaving Florida ports.

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