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French ports ready to welcome cruise ships from June 30, Costa and MSC sailing from Marseille July 4

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Marseille port has been working on health and safety protocols since the start of the pandemic
France’s Secretary of State for Tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne announced the country is ready for cruise ships calling or embarking/disembarking French or foreign passengers from June 30, with Marseille welcoming both MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises from July 4.

Ports will have to comply with Cruise Lines International Association guidelines with sanitary protocols first submitted by operators to the health ministry and adhering to rules concerning movements of some foreign nationals, where they apply. 

This will mark the end of curfew and lockdown measures that were imposed May 3.

Costa Smeralda restarting July 4

Costa Smeralda is scheduled to sail seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean until autumn, departing Marseille and calling Barcelona, Palma, Palermo, Civitavecchia and Savona.

Raffaele D’Ambrosio, general manager for France and VP for Northern Europe, Costa Cruises said, ‘Marseille has been a central port for our Med itineraries for over 25 years and the town is much appreciated by our passengers.

‘This means we are, logically, very attached to our links and are determined to develop our contribution to local life with this recovery.

We also wish to work with Marseille and its port to accompany our transition to a sustainable cruising model, for which Costa has been an innovator for many years with significant investments in new technologies and the launch of Costa Smeralda. We are happy about the new projects we’ll carry out there.’  

MSC Seaside to resume operations in France

From July 4, MSC Seaside will make its maiden call at Marseille and will sail at 70% capacity to comply with social distancing.

It will be the second MSC Cruises vessel back in service this summer season after MSC Grandiosa. ‘This is the ship with most outdoor spaces and this will allow passengers to spend more time in the open,’ commented Patrick Pourbaix, general manager for France, Belgium and Luxembourg, MSC Cruises.

‘Marseille is essential for us. We have all authorisations and set the necessary protocols.

‘As we hosted some 60,000 passengers since August 2020, we are able to react quickly. In any case, reservations are going strong, especially concerning departures from Marseille.’

MSC Seaside has been operating since the start of May, with weekly Western Med itineraries from Genoa.

Reinforced sanitary protocols and months of planning 

‘Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have worked hard on our healthy return to service,’ remarked Jean-François Suhas, president, Marseille Provence Cruise Club

He went on to describe the united approach of local bodies that has enabled the Port of Marseille to act as a ‘shelter port’ since March last year, hosting up to 23 cruise ships and repatriating 7,200 passengers and crew. Some 11 cruise ships are still docked at the port, including those of Ponant, Silversea, AIDA and Norweigan Cruise Lines.

‘An exceptional and unique technical platform has been set up in Marseille, including the Grand Port Maritime, the Prefecture, the Marseille Naval Fire Battalion, the Regional Health Agency Provence, Alpes, Côte d’Azur and Marseille’s hospitals,' Suhas said.

‘This structure has been maintained since then to support the cruise and port operators for this resumption.

‘Our cruise terminal has also reinforced its infrastructures and sanitary protocol to welcome future passengers following strict sanitary rules. So will excursions and visitor sites.’

Marseille welcomed 1,863,732 passengers in 2019.

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