MSC Cruises to Offer UK Cruises to Both Vaccinated and Non-Vaccinated Passengers

Author: Olivia Sharpe

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Covid-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory for guests to sail with MSC Cruises this summer

MSC Cruises has become the latest cruise line to announce that it will be offering a special range of short breaks and week-long cruises around the British Isles this summer starting from 20 May.

The cruise line has confirmed that UK guests will not need to be vaccinated and the sailings will be open to children.

Leading cruise lines such as P&O Cruises and Princess have also announced new UK sailings this summer as domestic cruising returns, but will be insisting guests are vaccinated.

Departing from the new terminal in the port of Southampton, these first sailings will commence with a series of short cruises and will be followed by seven-night sailings visiting some of the UK’s favourite destinations.

MSC Cruises UK and Ireland managing director, Antonio Paradiso, said: 'It’s time for UK holidaymakers to get back on board and enjoy a well-deserved break from what has been a very challenging 12 months for everyone in so many ways.

'MSC Cruises is a family-owned company and our guests are an extension of that, so we are looking forward to welcoming them and their families back on board. Our hope is to offer every type of holidaymaker the chance to escape this summer - from grandparents to teens and even the smallest of passengers looking to explore.

'We will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests. All guests will be tested prior to embarkation, while non-vaccinated guests will also be required to show proof of negative test done within 72 hours prior to embarkation.

'Crew in addition to the protocol-mandated test and 14-day quarantine prior to embarkation will also receive weekly testing, in addition to other ongoing health monitoring measures.'

Paradiso said that the cruise line has successfully carried more than 50,000 guests under its 'industry-leading' health and safety protocol since it resumed sailings last year.

'Since our restart of cruise operations in August last year, when our flagship MSC Grandiosa was the first ship to return at sea and offer guests full cruises in the Mediterranean, we have carried more than 50,000 guests under the protection of our industry-leading health and safety protocol.

'It is built around a comprehensive strategy that includes universal testing of all guests and crew prior to embarkation and periodically throughout the cruise, deep and ongoing sanitation, protected-only shore excursions, as well as many other measures that we are used to in our daily lives, such as social distancing and the wearing of face coverings. We will sail with a reduced capacity so that guests have even more space.'

He added: 'Our industry-leading protocol was developed with input from international health experts – including our own ‘Blue-Ribbon’ expert group – and in close cooperation with relevant health, transport and safety authorities and was designed to respond to a fluctuating health situation ashore.

'This allowed us to support continued cruise operations in the Mediterranean through to today, safely welcoming guests on board from across the Schengen area throughout the different phases of the evolution of the pandemic in the various countries.

'Our UK customers can be assured that we will continue to adapt the protocol in line with relevant requirements and guidance, to provide the same seamless experience they are used to when cruising.

'We understand how important this particular summer is to holidaymakers and we’re committed to providing guests with a range of fantastic activities in a healthy and safe environment. Guests can expect a variety of fun and engaging areas for children with play areas for a range of ages and world-class dining and round-the-clock entertainment offerings that provide multi-generational groups with a holiday option that suits this summer.

'We are also working on a programme of protected shore excursions for our guests to experience the destinations we will visit following our successful experience since last summer in other markets, but of course this is subject to prevailing circumstances and local guidance at the time of sailing.'

Paradiso has said that he is confident that MSC Cruises will soon be able to welcome UK guests back on board for sailings 'further afied', but in the meantime the line continues to 'engage with the UK Government and all relevant authorities' to evaluate and monitor 'the ever-changing travel landscape'.

'We believe that this special offering will provide UK holidaymakers with a unique summer of cruising and be the ultimate destination for families and friends to reconnect and create new memories this summer,' continued Paradiso.

'In the meantime, we continue to engage with the UK Government and all relevant authorities as we evaluate the ever-changing travel landscape and prepare for any potential roadblocks that could arise as we journey on the roadmap to recovery. Whilst we are excited for a summer of British cruising, we remain confident that we will soon be able to welcome UK guests back on board further afield.

'Further details regarding our UK sailings will be announced shortly, but we want guests to be assured that providing flexibility remains our top priority, so that they feel confident when booking their summer holiday with MSC Cruises.'

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