The moment also marked the return of big ship cruising in the Mediterranean.
'MSC Grandiosa’s departure from Genoa is the result of the 'desire to revive cruise tourism in the Mediterranean and the world, towards new horizons of safety, serenity and prosperity,’ said Paolo Emilio Signorini, president of the Port System Authority of the Western Ligurian Sea, during news conference at Stazioni Marittime.
Milestone for Genoa
Edoardo Monzani, CEO of Stazioni Marittime, added, ‘Today we are experiencing a historic day for the port of Genoa: MSC Cruises has chosen Genoa and the Stazioni Marittime to celebrate the restart of the cruise business after the suspension of global operations due to the COVID-19 emergency. An important signal for the port and its city, which also confirms the high degree of efficiency of the services offered by our company even in an extremely delicate moment like the one we are experiencing.’
The embarkation process started at 9.30 a.m. with guests arriving at the Stazioni Marittime terminal in staggered, allocated time slots and underwent temperature checks, medical review of their health questionnaire and an antigen COVID-19 swab test..
After completing these steps and having received the results of the test while in the terminal, guests that were fit to travel then embarked the ship according to the new health and safety procedures, which include sanitation of hand and hold luggage.
Five people had to undergo a second more extensive test but all were cleared to sail.
Among the passengers departing from Genoa, about 90% were Italians while the remainder came from France.
Additionally, over the past several weeks, all crew members have gone through similarly stringent health screening measures, which included 3 COVID-19 tests in various phases as well as a period of isolation before commencing their duties. Each crew member will be regularly tested and their health monitored.
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, commented, ‘It is a real pleasure for me to be here and sail on board the first of our ships to return to service and to be able to welcome back our guests. Our main goal during these last months has been to put in place the right measures that will protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit.’
Onorato added, ‘But at the same time, we have worked to ensure that we are able to provide our guests with a cruise holiday that they can enjoy and still experience all of the elements that they know and love from entertainment and activities on board through to protected ashore visits.’
An additional 1,500 passengers will join the ship either in Civitavecchia, Naples or Palermo, each undergoing the same health and safety procedures before Grandiosa calls at Valletta, Malta, and then returns to Genoa next Sunday.
‘Today is a memorable day for Genoa, for Italy and for the cruise industry ... We are happy to depart from Genoa, a city that we carry in our hearts, in whose port we handle more passengers than in any other port in the world,’ commented Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises.
He thanked the Italian government, the Ligurian authorities and the Port Authority Corps, the Civil Protection and Maritime Health for their support, both in the emergency phase, welcoming ships and crews, and in this restart with the definition of the new protocols and the ports' reopening.
Liguria welcomes cruise
‘Cruises are strategic for Liguria, integrating well with freight traffic and feeding a precious tourist flow for the whole territory,’ said Giovanni Toti, Ligurian Region president, during the press conference.
Hia views were echoed by Marco Bucci, the city’s mayor, ‘Genoa greets the departure of the first cruise ship with great joy. The journey of MSC Grandiosa in the Western Mediterranean represents a tangible sign of recovery of one of the fundamental supply chains for the economy of our city.’
MSC will commence Eastern Med cruising with MSC Magnifica from Bari starting on August 29.