MSC Bellissima will sail to Japan as MSC Cruises has become the first international line operating in Japan to receive a health and safety certification as it seeks to restart cruise operations in the country in April 2021.
The certification paves the way for MSC Cruises to open sales in December to local residents and start to work with ports in Japan to prepare for the forthcoming season.
“We are extremely pleased to have received this certification and are now confident that we will be able to restart our Japan operation serving the local market by April 2021,” said MSC Cruises CEO, Gianni Onorato.
“This is the first important step of a longer-term plan for MSC Cruises to resume Japanese cruise operations in the first half of 2021, and we will now work closely with the line towards that goal,” said Junichi Hirata, General Manager of Innovation and Sustainability at ClassNK, Japan’s official maritime classification society.
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Japan cruises will commence on MSC Bellissima
MSC Bellissima, one of the newest fleets in the MSC fleet spent its maiden season last year in the Meditteranean and will now be deployed to Japan where it will homeport in Yokohama and sail six to nine-night cruises in April, May and June 2021. She is also scheduled to operate in the country during October and November 2021.
“To be the first international cruise line in Japan to be awarded this key certification of compliance is a further testament to our robust and rigorous health and safety protocol which led the way for the entire global industry when in August we became the first major line to resume cruise operation in the Mediterranean,” said Onorato .
“We have now safely and responsibly carried more than 30,000 customers in the Mediterranean and can now look forward to offering the same for our guests who live in Japan.
“We believe, therefore, that this certification – in a country where the industry was at the centre of much attention very early in the pandemic – and the confirmation by authorities in Italy through their latest ministerial decree that cruising can continue, will go a long way to demonstrate the trust that we have been able to build with the [health and safety] protocol’s effective measures and their rigorous application for the benefit of guests, crew and the communities we serve.”
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MSC Magnifica sailings suspended due to France, Germany pandemic situation
In early November, MSC Cruises announced that it was temporarily suspending sailings of MSC Magnifica through to 18 December due to the pandemic situation in France and Germany and travel restrictions affecting guests from these markets.
The MSC Grandiosa has extended her current sailings into next year. The MSC flagship will perform her current 7-night itinerary in the Western Mediterranean with embarkation in Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo, Italy as well as calling Valletta, Malta, until March 27, 2021.
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Health and safety protocols tightened
The company has further tightened its health and safety protocol, which will now include the following:
- Additional onboard testing for all guests mid-way through their cruise (on top of the existing pre-boarding universal testing for all guests)
- Testing of all crew during their time on board is increased from twice-a-month to weekly (in addition to pre-boarding testing for all crew and other ongoing health monitoring measures)
- Increased frequency of onboard sanitation, in particular of public areas and high touch points
- Tightening of the definition of close contact for tracing purposes, reducing the time that individuals are in contact from 15 minutes to 10 minutes