2019 photo of MSC Grandiosa in the Port of Rotterdam. Image via MSC
Last week Italy’s government gave permission for cruise lines to resume operations and, on Sunday, MSC Grandiosa became the first cruise ship to sail the Mediterranean since the outbreak of COVID-19. The departure comes as virus cases continue to rise around Italy, with more than 600 reported by authorities on Saturday.
The first guests began embarking MSC Cruises’ flagship in the port of Genoa, Italy Sunday morning and followed the company’s new universal screening procedures which includes a temperature check, medical review of a health questionnaire and an antigen COVID-19 swab test. After completing these steps and waiting for the results, guests who passed the examination were allowed to embarked the ship where they received a wristband, which provides them with contactless options whilst onboard and can “help to facilitate proximity and contact tracing”.
MSC Cruises said it will also be operating the MSC Grandiosa at around 70% capacity, with approximately 2,500 passengers on board, to ensure safety protocols. This is seen as a first step towards rebooting an industry that generates an estimated $150bn annually – according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – and employes over 220,000 mariners – according to CrewCenter.
According to Cruise Critic all crew members have gone through screening measures which included three COVID-19 tests in various phases as well as a period of isolation before commencing their duties. Each crew member will then be regularly tested and their health monitored.
Following the embarkation of the new guests today in Civitavecchia, more guests will also embark in the ports of Naples and Palermo and then the ship will call at Valetta in Malta, before returning to Genoa on Sunday. MSC Cruises says it will launch another cruise from the Italian port of Bari on 29 August, but has otherwise suspended its Mediterranean cruises until mid-October.
MSC joins TUI Cruises as the first big ship lines to resume cruising, as well as Dream Cruises in Taiwan.
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