European cruise restart gains steam, as MSC sails from Italy this weekend

Another European cruise line will resume sailing this weekend when MSC’s flagship Grandiosa sets sail Sunday, August 16 on a seven-night cruise departing from Genoa.

The MSC Grandiosa is scheduled to depart from Bari on August 29, also on a seven-night Meditteranean cruise that will sail to Greece and the Greek Islands.

The departure comes after MSC unveiled its COVID-19 health protocols earlier this month and Italian authorities approved a restart of the cruise industry from August 15. 

The new procedures include universal COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew prior to embarkation, reduced capacity and social distancing, and ashore visits only with an MSC Cruises excursion.

Cruises aboard the MSC Grandiosa and the MSC Magnifica will only welcome guests who are residents in the 26-member European Schengen free travel zone.

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 European cruise Carnival’s Costa Cruises - Italian guests only
European cruise Carnival’s Costa Cruises – Italian guests only

European cruise line Carnival’s Costa Cruises – Italian guests only 

Carnival Corporation’s Italian subsidiary European cruise line Costa Cruises has meanwhile announced dates for its resumption of cruise operations in September, which will be reserved exclusively for Italian guests. 

The Costa Deliziosa will depart from Trieste and the Costa Diadema from Genoa on one-week itineraries calling at Italian ports only.

The company said the decision to allow only Italians on board “was made considering the evolution of the epidemiological scenario and taking in account the regulations issued August 13 by the Italian Ministry of Health regarding mandatory checks for travellers returning from some European and foreign destinations.”

The Costa Deliziosa will depart September 6, 13, 20, 27, and the Costa Diadema on September 19 with further details on the itineraries to be announced as soon as possible. All other Costa cruises are cancelled through September 30.

Italy was one of the worst hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic with over 35,000 deaths but has since flattened the outbreak in the country. 

The Italian cruise industry is Europe’s largest, worth 14.5 billion euros and supporting some 53,000 jobs,  according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Germany expands cruise restart 

Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean’s joint venture TUI Cruises of Germany said it was expanding its cruise restart with a third ship due to set sail in September when the Mein Schiff 6 will depart from the Greek island of Crete on a one-week voyage. The move comes after successful sailings by the Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 at 60 percent capacity without any reported cases of COVID-19 infection. 

Several crew members however did test positive before boarding the Mein Schiff 1, with the company saying that its health protocols, in which crew are tested and then isolated for 14 days, were working. 

The company has also announced that from September, passengers will also be required to provide a negative corona test before being allowed to board. 

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