An urgent diversion that required the ship to alter course has delayed MSC Seaside on her one-way, 6-night Southern Caribbean cruise, causing an adjustment in the ship’s itinerary.

Because the ship will be arriving much later than expected, many shore tours are cancelled and guests are receiving full refunds of those excursion costs.

A medical emergency caused MSC Cruises’ MSC Seaside to deviate from her planned route on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, so a guest requiring critical medical attention could be evacuated from the ship via helicopter.

This operation was coordinated with the US Coast Guard (USCG) and required the cruise ship to reverse course for several hours while sailing in the eastern Bahamas, just northwest of San Salvador Island. In order to preserve the privacy of the guest, neither their identity nor the nature of the medical emergency has been detailed.

“As mariners, we proudly embrace our duty to render assistance to persons in distress at sea, and to always cater to the well-being of every guest onboard,” the ship’s captain explained via the ship’s public address system.

MSC Seaside Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: lazyllama)

The 153,516-gross-ton MSC Seaside departed Port Canaveral on Sunday, November 19, for her current sailing and is offering a range of exotic Southern Caribbean itineraries with various departure points for guests to choose from, including Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Barbados.

The ship can welcome 4,132 guests aboard at double occupancy, or as many as 5,119 passengers when fully booked with all berths filled. Also onboard are approximately 1,400 international crew members.

MSC Seaside was enjoying a day at sea at the time of the diversion, and likewise, Thursday, November 22 was also a day at sea. Nevertheless, the diversion was significant enough that the ship’s itinerary has been impacted.

Strong winds and ocean swells have affected the ship’s cruising speed on the way to her next port of call, Philipsburg, St. Maarten. The original schedule had the ship in port from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 23, but now – due to the evacuation and the weather conditions – the ship will not arrive until approximately 6 p.m., but will remain in port until 2 a.m.

MSC Seaside Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: FabioMitidieri / Shutterstock)

While a late night call may not be ideal, this will still give passengers time to enjoy Philipsburg if they choose.

Any guests who booked a shore excursion for Philipsburg through MSC Cruises will receive a full refund of their tour back to their onboard account if it cannot be rescheduled to accommodate the ship’s new in-port time. Several alternative excursion options are available for booking.

“Please note that this situation is due to reasons that are beyond our control,” the captain said. “Our priority is to always ensure your comfort, safety, and well-being. I appreciate your understanding.”

In addition to the change to the time in Philipsburg, the remaining ports of call on the itinerary have also had slight changes.

After Philipsburg, MSC Seaside will visit St. Johns, Antigua, which was to have been from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, November 24. Now, the ship will be in port from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The following day’s visit to Fort de France, Martinique – which was to have been from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. – will now be from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.

It is not clear whether or not the additional itinerary adjustments are due to the medical evacuation, but that is unlikely. Such small adjustments are more likely to be related to docking operations, weather conditions, and simple refinements based on current sailing conditions.

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