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Oct. 1 update: P&O's Ventura to resume internationally, MSC winter protocols, Var Provence calls

Ventura becomes P&O's third ship to resume international cruises
Here's a quick read of some of today’s coronavirus-recovery cruise news.

A third P&O Cruises ship to sail internationally

P&O Cruises' Ventura is resuming operations on Sunday as it sets sail for the Canary Islands, becoming the brand’s third ship to resume international cruises.

Half the P&O Cruises fleet is now in service as Ventura joins Iona and Britannia, both of which sailed a series of summer UK coastal cruises and have been operating internationally since September 25.. Azura will also resume sailing in December, joining Britannia for the Caribbean season.

P&O Cruises President Paul Ludlow said: 'Ventura’s international restart is the result of guest confidence in cruising and is the very latest stage of P&O Cruises' sailing resumption as we work towards the return of our full fleet in spring 2022.'


MSC Divina at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve

MSC details COVID rules for winter programs across various markets

MSC Cruises spelled out COVID-19 protocols for winter sailings in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Red Sea/Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and grand voyages.

Insurance will be mandatory for everyone and the policy needs to cover COVID-19-related risks such as cancellation, interruption, repatriation expenses, quarantine, medical assistance and related expenses, as well as hospitalization. The policy must include coverage in the case of being a close contact.

Fully vaccinated travelers will be able to go ashore independently, according to the requirements of the countries they visit. Those not fully vaccinated or traveling with children have to participate in bubble excursions.

It will be possible to purchase a PCR or antigen test on board during the cruise if this is required for travelers to return to their home country. 

On cruises from PortMiami and Port Canaveral everyone 12 and older must be vaccinated. US residents also need to provide a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 48 hours before embarking while all children 2 to 11 and alll non-US residents will need to show a negative PCR test taken within 72 before embarking. For Southern Caribbean cruises, those 12 and older must be vaccinated and everyone 2 and older needs to show a PCR test.

In the Mediterranean vaccinated and not fully vaccinated travelers from Schengen countries will either need to have a negative antigen or PCR test taken with 48 hours of departure or be fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months. Non-Schengen travelers will need to be fully vaccinated and provide a PCR test taken within 72 hours. Travelers can only go ashore when participating in an MSC excursion and some tours will require an official COVID certificate (for example, an EU Digital COVID certificate) to access some tourist venues, such as museums or churches.

In Northern Europe passengers 12 and older need to be fully vaccinated and those 2 to 11 need to show a negative PCR test or antigen taken within 48 hours of their cruise departure. Non-Schengen passengers will need to be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours.

For Red Sea/Saudi Arabia and UAE cruises, travelers 12 years and up need to be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before embarking; the test is also required for ages 2-11. For MSC Bellissima cruises in the Red Sea, a visa is required for entry into Saudi Arabia and travelers who purchase an MSC Fly & Cruise package will have the visa, valued at €30 per person, included in the overall cost. Travelers need to register their vaccination status with the Saudi authorities prior to arrival.

For grand voyages, passengers 12 and up need to be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before embarking; this test is also required of ages 2-11.

South America and South Africa protocols will be confirmed soon.

More calls at 'Cruise Friendly' Var Provence

Cruise traffic typically peaks at Var Provence in the spring and fall, and since cruising resumed in France June 30, that fall pattern is happening.

After Mein Schiff 2 called at La-Seyne-sur-Mer Sept. 16, Var Provence’s boutique ports welcomed five calls the following week: Club Med 2 at Bandol Sept. 20, Sea Cloud II at Saint-Raphaël Sept.  21, Club Med 2 at Saint-Tropez Sept. 23, Star Clipper at Bandol Sept. 24 and at Saint-Tropez Sept. 24.


A hostess greets Club Med 2 passengers

Passengers are able to stroll freely and the Var Provence Cruise Club welcomes them with its 'Cruise Friendly' approach: hostesses provide a map listing the stores, restaurants and leisure service providers that are ready to give a warm welcome, including special discounts. New destinations joining the Cruise Friendly network include Reunion, Martinique, Sète and Yokohama.

Var Provence expects 20 additional calls before the end of the cruise season in late November, for a total of 44 calls and 20,000 passengers in 2021. In 2022, 186 calls and 200,000 passengers are projected, the same volumes as in 2019.