The first cruise ship to sail an international cruise from Spain since March 2020, it arrived at the port with some 2,000 mostly Italian and French passengers on board, with 500 Spaniards embarking.
Seventy percent of transit passengers embarked on 'bubble' excursions within the city.
‘To see it reopen for our guests from Spain and other countries in Europe is extremely gratifying,’ said Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises. ‘This was a very welcome addition to the ever-increasing number of ports that are opening for business after such a long pause in operations.
‘As the first cruise line to offer international cruises from Spain, we are sure that our Spanish guests will enjoy the convenience of embarkation in Barcelona on Saturdays...'
MSC Grandiosa is operating at 50% of passenger capacity on its current cruise, with 70% as the maximum permitted at present. The seven-night sailing calls at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples and Palermo, plus Valletta, Malta.
At the end of July, MSC Grandiosa will also begin calling at the Port of Valencia with embarkation on Fridays. It will then call Barcelona, before sailing on to the Italian ports of Genoa, La Spezia for Florence and Pisa, and Civitavecchia.
TUI, Costa and AIDA Cruises calling Barcelona in July
To mark the occasion and provide an overview on future cruise activity, a joint briefing was held at the Barcelona Port Authority head office overlooking the Adossat cruise pier, by Carla Salvadó, deputy director general - commercial & marketing, Port of Barcelona and Fernando Pacheco, director general - Spain, MSC Cruises.
Salvadó reported that the next port calls would be TUI Cruises' Mein Schiff 2 on June 29, Costa Cruises’ Costa Smeralda on July 5 and AIDA Cruises’ AIDAperla on July 9.
Norwegian Cruise Line is expected to begin operations at the Port of Barcelona in August, with the first operation by a US-based brand being Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas on August 15. Salvadó noted that the resumption of cruising will facilitate a return to pre-pandemic trans-Atlantic direct flights to Barcelona by US airlines as a significant portion of their traffic to the city has been cruise-related.
MSC Cruises' collaboration with port
The line worked with Spain’s national and local authorities — including the Ministry of Health and Ports of the State (Puertos del Estado) — to begin operating sailings from the port. Pacheco provided a detailed description of MSC Cruises' health-related protocols at the joint briefing, while calling attention to the delivery of MSC Seashore next month: It will be ‘the most technologically advanced vessel in the MSC Cruises fleet,’ he said.
All passengers disembarking in Barcelona must complete an antigen test within 48 hours of their cruise ending.
MSC Cruises continuing phased restart
Overall, six MSC Cruises vessels are scheduled to operate in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe this summer: Baltic Sea cruises on MSC Seaview get underway beginning July 3 from Kiel and MSC Seaside will resume sailing July 4 from Marseille.
From August 2, MSC Meraviglia will recommence Caribbean cruises from Miami and will be joined in the region by MSC Divina from September 18 ,which will restart sailings from Port Canaveral.
MSC Seashore comes into service in August with voyages in the West Med, before moving to Miami in November for a season in the Caribbean.
MSC Magnifica resumed sailings last week in the East Mediterranean, joining MSC Splendida and MSC Orchestra.
Port infrastructure developed during industry shutdown
During its 21-month cruise shutdown, the Port of Barcelona worked on upgrading Adossat pier, investing €2.6m in a docking system to improve security. A further €1.22m has been spent on improving road access to the cruise area.
From February 2020 to April 2021, the third phase of extension to the pier involved costs of €2.6m in preparation for the construction of the MSC Cruises terminal building.