On August 16, 2020, MSC Grandiosa departed Genoa for a seven-night voyage in the West Mediterranean, heralding a return to big ship cruising in the Mediterranean.
This restart was down to a range of local, regional and national authorities in Europe sanctioning a health and safety protocol that MSC Cruises had developed with an external panel of medical and public health experts designed for the well-being of guests, crew and communities where the ships would call.
Ten ships at sea
Twelve months on and 10 MSC ships are currently cruising: around the UK (MSC Virtuosa), in the West Mediterranean (MSC Grandiosa, MSC Seaside, MSC Seashore), in the East Med (MSC Orchestra, MSC Splendida, MSC Magnifica), in the Baltic Sea (MSC Seaview), in North America and the Caribbean (MSC Meraviglia) and in the Red Sea (MSC Bellssima).
More ships are scheduled to resume operations in the coming weeks and months as part of the line’s phased plan for returning the full fleet to service by next year.
In addition, MSC noted some other milestones in calendar year 2021:
Steel was cut in June at Chantiers de l'Atlantique for a second LNG-powered ship, MSC Euribia, to be delivered in 2023;
MSC Seascape’s keel was laid in June at Fincantieri with delivery planned in November 2022 and a five-year preferential berthing rights deal was signed with Cruise Saudi for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
As well, MSC Group launched new luxury brand Explora Journeys in June and cut steel for first ship Explora I at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone yard. 2023 delivery is scheduled.
On the sustainability front, in the past year MSC Cruises confirmed it is on track to achieve decarbonisation target of a 40% improvement by 2030.
It announced plans to assess the feasibility of building hydrogen-powered cruise ships and the necessary supply chain in partnership with Fincantieri and Snam, one of Italy’s leading energy infrastructure companies.
It took the cruise industry lead in the EU-funded ‘CHEK’ research project to promote low-carbon shipping solutions and in December 2020 signed the UK Chamber of Shipping’s ‘Single Use Plastic Charter.'