Crew members were applauded as they used pepper spray to quell brawling passengers on the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship on February 27 amid fears over the coronavirus.
A bystander captured video of the fighting among passengers in the “inside promenade” on the ship. She said the video shows crew members pepper-spraying the people engaged in the fight.
MSC Cruises told Storyful that “minimum force was used” after two guests became “violent and aggressive” toward staff. The guests “were immediately taken to the medical centre as a precaution,” they said.
The ship docked in Cozumel, Mexico, after it was turned away from two other ports, media reported.
The cruise liner was denied permission to dock in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and Georgetown, the Cayman Islands, on Tuesday, February 25.
MSC Cruises said Friday morning that the MSC Meraviglia vessel was given a clean bill of health by Mexican health officials. Medical checks were administered on a crew member and a female guest whom local Caribbean authorities feared were sick with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, reports said. The two reportedly had the flu.
The company said the measures by Jamaica and Grand Cayman were “born out of fear, not best medical practice,” and caused “unnecessary and unjustifiable anxiety.”
MSC Cruises added that the 4,580 guests onboard will “receive a 100 percent refund of their cruise fare due to the disruptive nature of their vacation.”
MSC Meraviglia passenger Blanca Haddad captured the videos. She told Storyful tensions were high aboard the vessel.
“People were getting hyped. We were locked in a ship and couldn’t get off in the ports of Jamaica or Grand Cayman,” Haddad said. “People were becoming frustrated and began fighting with crew members. To stop the fight they sprayed us with pepper spray.”
Haddad said the passengers and crew were allowed out in Mexico because testing came out negative for the two guests on board who were thought to be carrying the virus.
MSC Cruises provided the following statement to Storyful:
“Two guests who appeared to be drunk approached our music entertainers and tried to grab their microphone. Security Officers were called and on arrival, the two guests became violent and aggressive towards our staff. Security Officers restrained the two guests and minimum force was used. They were immediately taken to the medical centre as a precaution.
“Passengers on this particular cruise have been incredibly considerate and sympathetic towards our crew this week. Many guests are enjoying their time and making the best of their holiday. We couldn’t have hoped for a better crowd and also our crew are going above and beyond to ensure people enjoy their time on board.
“We understand people may be disappointed about this particular cruise, but we will under no circumstances accept any violence on board. We are in close contact with the two guests and can confirm the matter has settled.
“We sincerely apologise to our passengers who were impacted by the disruptive behaviour and also want to thank them for being such great guests.” Credit: Blanca Haddad via Storyful