Europe's first big-ship, multi-port operations
These will be among the world's first big-ship, multi-port operations since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the cruise industry. Dream Cruises' Explorer Dream began offering short Taiwan jaunts July 26. TUI Cruises resumed sailing from Germany in July, but on cruises to nowhere, and AIDA has awaited flag-state Italy's OK to go. Smaller ships have been sailing from a handful of other lands, including Norway, Denmark, Iceland, France and French Polynesia, along with one short-lived Alaska attempt.
MSC Grandiosa to sail Aug. 16, MSC Magnifica Aug. 29
MSC Cruises is ready to go with MSC Grandiosa from Genoa on Aug. 16 and MSC Magnifica from Bari Aug. 29, as earlier reported here, and Costa said it will announce its itineraries soon. Both companies have protocols in place and have worked with classification society RINA to verify compliance.
'We warmly thank the Italian government with all its articulations, and also the Port Authority Corps, Civil Protection and Maritime Health, for the precious and decisive support given both in emergency phase, welcoming our ships and our crews, [and for this] restart with the definition of the new protocols and the reopening of the ports,' said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises.
Costa excited to begin cruising 'soon'
For his part, Michael Thamm, group CEO Costa Group and Carnival Asia, said Costa is 'extremely excited that we will be able to cruise again soon and we want to thank the Italian government and all the authorities for their constant availability and support.'
He added: 'The cruise industry and Costa specifically, as the only Italian cruise company, create significant value for the economy and the destinations we visit. The gradual restart of our operations will give relief to the local economies in port communities and to the whole ecosystem of almost 5,000 suppliers and business partners and over 7,500 travel agents in Italy who have been suffering from the pause of our activities.'
Thamm called the resumption of cruises a 'great responsibility' in respect to passengers, crew and the communities visited.
'In the next days, we will be working closely with national and local authorities, ports and terminals, RINA and internally on board our ships, for the full implementation of the protocols issued by the Italian government so we can all together guarantee a smooth, well-organized and safe restart of our cruises, both on board and ashore.'
He said Costa will soon detail its itineraries.
In recent days both companies detailed their new health regimens, developed with input from leading scientists and public health officials.
MSC Cruises will require COVID-19 swab tests for everybody and passengers and crew will be allowed ashore only on MSC's own excursions, among other protocols. Among its procedures, Costa includes rigorous crew screening/pre-embarkation quarantine and will require masks for all passengers indoors.
Both companies' ships will travel at reduced occupancy and with enhanced sanitation protocols.