Just a week after announcing protocols for health and safety on board their cruise ships, MSC Cruises has a concrete start date for sailings in the Mediterranean. MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will begin sailing on August 16 and 29, 2020 respectively. The ships will sail the Eastern and Western Mediterranean on seven-night cruises. The new health and safety protocol will be strictly enforced on board.
Not everyone is allowed on board, however. Only people from a block of 26 European countries – known as Schengen countries – will be allowed to board. Ports of call for MSC Grandiosa include of Genoa, Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valetta. MSC Magnifica leave from the Italian ports of Bari and Trieste and call at the Greek ports of Corfu, Katakolon and Piraeus.
MSC Cruises Returning to Operation
According to Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, safety remained the top priority throughout the pause in operation.
“During the pause in our operations we focused on developing a comprehensive operating protocol that builds upon already stringent health and safety measures that have long been in place on board our ships,” he said. “We have worked closely with the relevant EU-level, national health and other authorities from the countries that MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will call along their Mediterranean itineraries to develop a comprehensive set of procedures designed to protect the health and safety of all passengers on board our ships as well as ashore to ensure that local communities feel comfortable welcoming our guests.”
READ MORE: MSC Cruises’ Health and Safety Plan
Last week, MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato explained via video press conference that the cruise line was able to test guests for COVID-19 prior to boarding with results back in 30 minutes. This was a key point in being able to sail again in the Mediterranean, where the cruise line got its start.
“We are very pleased to be able to start welcoming back guests for full-experience cruise vacations this summer on board two of our most popular ships — including our flagship MSC Grandiosa — and in the Mediterranean, the very region where our company’s roots are and we have long been market leaders,” he said.
What About Cruising in America?
During his video press conference last week, Gianni Onorato was asked about when we might see a return to cruising in America. His answer, while not giving a specific date, was not a positive one. In MSC Cruises’ announcement this morning, they gave a similar non-committal answer:
MSC Cruises will only restart operations in the U.S. when the time is right, following approval by the CDC and other relevant authorities across the region in observance of their requirements and guidelines.
Would you cruise on the first voyage back with MSC Cruises? Would you rather sail the Eastern Mediterranean on board MSC Magnifica or the Western Mediterranean on board MSC Grandiosa? Sound off in the comments!