The Scottish government is alleged to have denied MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa the right to dock in Greenock, less than 36 hours before the ship’s arrival.
Although Scottish authorities are yet to publicly confirm the decision regarding the vessel, which is currently at sea en route to Greenock (near Glasgow), the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) claims to have seen an email from the line to guests explaining the enforced itinerary change.
TTG has contacted MSC and the Scottish government for further comment and clarification.
The SPAA said its agent members had been informed future Greenock departures on 16 and 23 June had also been cancelled – saying it was “utterly devastated” by the Scottish government’s actions.
In the email sent to passengers onboard Virtuosa and seen by the SPAA, MSC says the decision to cancel its Greenock call was “due to the latest Scottish government Covid-19 restrictions and regulations”.
“No guests are allowed to embark or disembark… This decision has been made by the Scottish government and is out of our control,” the line said.
Virtuosa is on a seven-day sailing which began with a maiden call in Liverpool on Tuesday (8 June) and the ship had been due to dock in Greenock on Wednesday (9 June), ahead of calls in Belfast, Southampton, Portland in Dorset before returning to Greenock before a final stop in Liverpool.
The SPAA said Scottish passengers were due to join the cruise in Greenock and claimed “an anticipated third of current passengers” were expected to go ashore for excursions.
The association said it understood 75% of those onboard, or due to board, had been double-vaccinated and have been "triple tested" as part of “stringent” Covid protocols.
Joanne Dooey, president of SPAA, said: “We’re now facing the situation where Scottish passengers who joined the cruise in Liverpool are barred from setting foot in their own country.
“The SPAA has been asking for clarity on the situation for this particular cruise ship since last week, and all we have received so far is an indication that cruises may only restart when all of Scotland is in level one – Inverclyde itself is currently in level one.”