Inside the MSC Magnifica’s Journey Home with Captain Roberto Leotta

MSC Magnifica

From March 14 to April 20, the MSC Magnifica did not disembark any guests and sailed straight back to Marseille amid the COVID-19 crisis with Captain Roberto Leotta at the helm for the unprecedented journey.

The ship was in the middle of its world cruise, which was set to span 118 days.

“We were aware of the COVID-19 situation from the moment it became public,” said Leotta. “During the early days of the world cruise we monitored the situation closely as it was constantly evolving. We adapted to the situation as it unfolded and followed the appropriate heightened health and safety measures.”

As the situation unfolded, Leotta said that government restrictions were remaking port calls more difficult, with the decision coming in Hobart on March 14 to no longer allow guests to disembark for safety reasons.

“By the time we reached Sydney we had technically cancelled the planned world cruise,” he said. ”It was obviously a difficult decision and we of course evaluated all of the options carefully.”

Heading back to Marseille, the 2010-built ship provisioned in Fremantle and Colombo.

“I think it is safe to say that this is an unprecedented situation and I am not sure that anyone has experienced anything like this before,” Leotta added, noting that the cruise home was basically treated as a cruise sailing with food, beverage and entertainment.

Leotta will stay aboard the ship for now. He went to sea in 1984, first serving on tanker ships before moving to cruise ships as a deck cadet in 1988, making the grade of captain in 2006.

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