Illustrating the challenges to restart the cruise industry, MSC Cruises has announced a further delay in the return of its second large cruise ship to service. While highlighting the success for its first cruise ship that resumed sailing last month, MSC Cruises changed the program for its second ship.
MSC Cruises had planned to resume cruises in the eastern Mediterranean aboard its second cruise ship the MSC Magnifica sailing from the ports of Bari and Trieste, Italy. The MSC Magnifica was originally scheduled to begin cruises on August 29 offering seven-night cruises calling at the Greek ports of Corfu, Katakolon, and Piraeus. Saying that passengers were canceling and that bookings had softened due to the introduction of additional testing measures for residents of Italy having traveled to Greece, MSC later delayed the start of her cruises till September 26.
The MSC Magnifica is now scheduled to resume service on October 19 with a revised program. The new plan calls for 10-night cruises sailing instead from Genoa on the west coast of Italy instead of the eastern ports. The ports of call are also being changed to include Livorno and Civitavecchia in Italy, Messina in Sicily, Valletta in Malta, and Piraeus and Katakolon in Greece. The company said that it believes passengers would appreciate the additional time at sea and noted that shore programs would continue to be available on company-operated tours. The change in homeports they said would make air travel easier for residents in Schengen countries or accessible ports for people boarding who live in the local areas.
The MSC Magnifica will also operate a special eight-night Christmas cruise departing December 18 from Genoa. MSC reaffirmed that it plans for the ship to sail on a world cruise departing Italy in January 2021 although no details have been provided on what ports might be available for the ship. In March 2020, the MSC Magnifica was in Australia when it was forced to end the world cruise and make a long voyage home to Italy.
In addition, MSC said that it was receiving positive feedback from passengers who had been on the first four cruises of the MSC Grandiosa. The company extended MSC Grandiosa’s current sailings through year-end, including a Christmas cruise to depart Genoa, Italy on December 20. The MSC Grandiosa is offering seven-night cruises with embarkation in the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples, and Palermo, plus calling at Valletta, Malta.
MSC’s change in plan comes as Costa Cruises also announced new plans to ramp-up its cruise program in October and the fall of 2020. Both companies have been able to begin cruising from Italy using tight protocols to screen for COVID-19.
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