Italy’s first cruise since the COVID-19 crisis departed from Genoa, Italy today, August 16, marking a milestone for Italy in its recovery from the virus as well as the cruise industry. After a press conference, and with numerous onlookers, the MSC Grandiosa sailed on her first 7-day cruise.
Passengers arriving for the cruise experienced many changes in how the industry will be operating. It was also the first test of MSC Cruises’ new comprehensive health protocols. Passengers were assigned arrival times in order to create smaller groups during the embarkation process. The screening steps in the terminal included temperature control, medical analysis through a health questionnaire, and a COVID-19 antigen swab test for each guest before boarding. They were required to wait in the terminal for the test results.
All guests were also given a free RFID bracelet, which allows passengers to maintain contactless interactions aboard the ship, such as opening their cabin door or making payments. MSC also said that the devices would help to trace proximity contacts if necessary.
In preparation to resume cruising, MSC also implemented a series of precautions with the crew aboard the ship. All crew members underwent health screening measures, including three different COVID-19 tests carried out at different times and a period of isolation before commencing onboard activities. Each member of the crew will also regularly undergo further tests and their health will be monitored.
Siamo tornati! É un’emozione unica vedere #MSCGrandiosa, la prima nave della nostra flotta a rientrare in servizio, partire da Genova e iniziare il suo itinerario nel mediterraneo occidentale! Per saperne di più: https://bit.ly/3iMSHZs. Libera la tua voglia di scoperta. #UnMondoDiScoperte
Posted by MSC Crociere on Sunday, August 16, 2020
The first passengers boarded in Genoa, but in an attempt to limit travel to the ship and especially on public transit, the ship will also embark passengers in Civitavecchia, Naples, and Palermo. In addition to the Italian ports, the MSC Grandiosa will also call in Valletta, Malta, before its return to Genoa on August 23. Passengers will be only be permitted to go ashore as part of excursions organized by MSC. The company says this is a way to ensure that it can maintain the same health standards during the shore visits.
MSC plans to continue weekly sailing with the MSC Grandiosa and later in the month also run its first cruise in the Eastern Mediterranean sailing from Trieste to ports in Greece aboard the MSC Magnifica. Only people residing in Schengen countries can currently sail on these cruises.
Additional cruise ships are also expected to return to service in the next few weeks. Italy’s Costa Cruises confirmed its first sailing will be on September 6 aboard the Costa Deliziosa from Trieste followed by weekly sailings in September. The Costa Diadema is also scheduled to start its first cruise from Genoa on September 19. Unlike MSC, Costa announced that it was taking two further steps both limiting its cruises to only Italian guests and the ships will only visit Italian ports. The company said it hopes that in October the situation will allow other nationalities to also sail on its ships.
In announcing its cruise plans, Costa also said in its statement, “Costa is continuing to work in close cooperation with Flag State authorities, Italian Regions, local institutions, health authorities, harbor master’s offices, ports and terminals, and RINA to ensure a responsible, smooth and well-organized application of the new regulations and protocols approved by the Italian Government for the restart of cruises.”
Beyond these cruise ships sailing from Italy, Germany’s AIDA Cruises also plans to resume cruises in September. TUI Cruises, which has also resumed sailing from Germany, said that it plans to add a cruise ship sailing in the Mediterranean from Corfu starting in October. TUI’s UK cruise line is also exploring starting its first cruises later in the fall possibly in the Canary Islands.
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