Europe’s cruise restart is gathering steam as Costa Cruises – Carnival Corporation’s Italian brand – flagship Costa Smeralda sailed October 10 from the port of Savona in northwest Italy. The ship is the third in the Costa fleet to resume cruise operations after the Costa Deliziosa and Costa Diadema.
The one-week itinerary of Costa Smeralda will have five departures from Savona, from October 10 to November 7, 2020, with calls at La Spezia, Cagliari, Naples, Messina, and Civitavecchia/ Rome .
Savona has been the homeport of the LNG powered Costa Smeralda since December last year when she made her maiden cruise after leaving the Meyer shipyard in Turku where she was built.
Costa Smeralda: Most advanced vessel in Costa fleet
“It is very exciting to see our flagship depart once more from Savona, Costa’s main port in the Mediterranean,” – said Michael Thamm, Group CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia. “We are gradually returning to cruising with an increasing number of ships, in a safe and responsible way, thanks to new health protocols. The return of Costa Smeralda, which represents the most advanced vessel in our fleet in terms of reducing environmental impact, is also a renewal of our commitment to sustainable cruise development, which will be one of the key points in the recovery of our sector in the coming years.”
— Fandecroisières (@christelle59830) October 11, 2020
In a press release, Costa Cruises said the port of Savona would play a leading role in the company’s restart program. After the first five cruises in Italy, Costa Smeralda will continue to call at Savona every week until the end of 2021, with an itinerary that will include Italy, France and Spain. In Winter 2020/21, from November 3 2020, Costa Diadema will also dock at the Palacrociere cruise terminal and will offer 12-day cruises to the Canary Islands, 14-day cruises to Egypt, and Greece, and 14-day cruises also to Turkey. These will be repeated in Fall 2021. During Spring and Fall 2021, Costa Fortuna, Costa Favolosa, and Costa Fascinosa will also arrive in Savona, offering mini-cruises in the Mediterranean and 10-day cruises to Portugal.
Costa health and safety program
The embarkation of guests on Costa Smeralda was carried out in accordance with the procedures set out in Costa’s COVID-19 health and safety program, which includes, staggered entrance times temperature scans for guest, a health questionnaire a double buffer COVID-19 test that includes an antigen rapid swab test, with the possibility of an additional molecular swab test for any suspected cases. One hundred percent testing has been adopted by the cruise industry world wide as the gold standard to combat COVID-19.
Prior to embarking, crew members were also subjected to a molecular swab test at intervals and were quarantined for 14 days. In addition, each member of crew will have a monthly test. Destinations on Costa Smeralda’s itinerary can be visited only by joining protected excursions organized by the company for small groups of people on sanitized means of transport, and subject to temperature measurement before leaving and rejoining the ship.
European cruise restart gathering steam
In addition to Costa, several European cruise lines have resumed operations over the past two months, among them MSC Cruises, which has now sailed eight voyages on the MSC Grandiosa, without a single known case of COVID-19 .
Cruise executives expressed confidence last week that the industry could return to sail from North America after holding a virtual meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to discuss proposals to resume cruise operations.
Speaking earlier in the week at the Seatrade Virtual Cruise conference, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said, “Yes, we will be sailing sometime this year…On a scale of 1 to 5, I’ll say a 4.9 in terms of optimism.”