Pierfrancesco Vago announced Saturday today that its flagship MSC Grandiosa and the MSC Magnifica will resume sailing in the Mediterranean starting from 16 and 29 August 2020 respectively on 7-night cruises.
The announcement comes less than a week after MSC revealed full details of its COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The Grandiosa, launched in November 2019, and the Magnifica will be the first two ships to implement the new protocols, which MSC said had been approved by the relevant national authorities from the countries the ships are scheduled to call at during their Mediterranean itineraries this summer.
“During the pause in our operations we focused on developing a comprehensive operating protocol that builds upon already stringent health and safety measures that have long been in place on board our ships,” said MSC Cruises Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago. “We have worked closely with the relevant EU-level, national health and other authorities from the countries that MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will call along their Mediterranean itineraries to develop a comprehensive set of procedures designed to protect the health and safety of all passengers on board our ships as well as ashore to ensure that local communities feel comfortable welcoming our guests.”
Pierfrancesco Vago noted that the new procedures would include universal COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew prior to embarkation and protected ashore visits at each destination only with an MSC Cruises excursion.
The Grandiosa, MSC’s flagship
The Grandiosa, MSC’s flagship, will offer seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean calling at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valletta, while the Magnifica will sail seven-night cruises in the Eastern Mediterranean departing from the Italian ports of Bari and Trieste, calling at the Greek ports of Corfu, Katakolon and Piraeus.
CEO Gianni Onorato said MSC Cruises has been working closely with the different authorities in the countries where the MSC ships will call to develop a comprehensive protocol to protect passenger and crew health and safety, as well as that of local communities visited by cruise ships. Onorato said MSC’s operating procedures go beyond regional and national guidelines, adding that RINA, the independent maritime certification corporation, has verified that the protocol meets the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) guidance, which incorporates additional health standards including those from the EU Healthy Gateways.
As yet the cruises will not be available to North American customers as MSC said that in the initial phase of the restart of operations, cruises aboard the Grandiosa and the Magnifica would only welcome guests who are residents in the 26-member European Schengen free travel zone.
At the same time as it announced the cruises on board the Magnifica and the Grandiosa, MSC said it has cancelled all other cruises in the Mediterranean from 16 August through to and including 31 October. It also cancelled US cruise departures up to and including the 31 October – in line with the announcement that CLIA members will voluntarily extend the suspension of cruise operations to this date. Far East cruises from 10 September through to and including 26 October are also cancelled.