MSC Will Resume Cruises on August 16
Switzerland-based MSC Cruises announced Monday that it will resume "full-experience" cruise operations on select ships in the Mediterranean starting from mid-August.
The cruise lines flagship MSC Grandiosa will sail in the West Mediterranean from August 16 and MSC Magnifica in the West Mediterranean from August 29. The ships will be the first to implement a new health and safety protocol that has been approved by the relevant national authorities along the ships’ itineraries.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, said, “We have worked closely with the relevant EU-level, national health and other authorities from the countries that MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will call along their Mediterranean itineraries to develop a comprehensive set of procedures designed to protect the health and safety of all passengers on board our ships as well as ashore to ensure that local communities feel comfortable welcoming our guests.
“The new procedures include universal COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew prior to embarkation, protected ashore visits at each destination only with an MSC Cruises’ excursion as an added level of protection for our guests and the introduction of a COVID Protection Plan for further peace of mind for our guests.”
MSC Cruises said its new operating protocol meets and goes beyond guidelines provided by key international and regional regulatory and technical bodies, as well as regulations set forth by the governments in the countries in which MSC Cruises’ ships operate. Additionally, RINA, the independent maritime certification corporation, has verified that the protocol meets the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Guidance, which incorporates additional health standards including those from the EU Healthy Gateways Joint Action.
For this initial phase of the restart of operations, the two ships will initially only welcome passengers who are residents in Schengen countries.
MSC Grandiosa will offer seven-night cruises calling at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valetta. MSC Magnifica will offer seven-night cruises departing from the Italian ports of Bari and Trieste and calling at the Greek ports of Corfu, Katakolon and Piraeus.
MSC Cruises has cancelled all other cruises in the Mediterranean from August 16 through October 31, though the cruise line said it is following the evolution of the pandemic and a gradual introduction of other ships coming into service is possible during this same summer period.
Meanwhile, MSC Cruises has canceled all U.S. cruise departures through October 31, 2020, in line with the recent announcement by trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). MSC Cruises also cancelled the Far East cruises from September 10 through October 26.
Regarding MSC Cruises’ itineraries beyond the current summer season, Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, said, “We will closely monitor updates and new guidelines at a global, European and national level and will continuously review and update our health and safety protocol to make sure that its measures reflect the most updated medical know-how and technology as it becomes available as well as reflect in it the different phases in the evolution and spread of the virus and as social restrictions change over time. To this end, with time, and in line with the development of the health situation ashore, we are hoping to be able to relax certain measures while continuing to ensure that the health and safety of everyone on board our ships remains our utmost priority. At the same time, we will always make sure that our guests can enjoy and relax while on vacation on board one of MSC Cruises ships, the way they always have – now including this summer.”