There was much to rejoice about this weekend in the world of cruising as MSC Cruises’ MSC Grandiosa became the first major ocean cruise ship to set sail on a Mediterranean cruise in almost five months since the global suspension of sailings due to coronavirus (Covid-19) was announced.

This comes following the announcement from the Italy government last week that it has granted permission for cruise lines to resume sailings in the region from 15 August.

The ship embarked from the Italian port of Genoa yesterday (Sunday 16 August) on a seven-night voyage and will call at the Italian ports of Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples, Palermo and Malta’s Valetta.

Normally, the cruise ship carries up to as many as 6,300 passengers, but due to new Covid-19 protocols, is operating at a reduced capacity of 70 per cent.

MSC Magnifica in Dubrovnik
MSC Magnifica will shortly follow in Grandiosa’s footsteps

MSC Cruises, which operates MSC Grandiosa, announced its enhanced health & safety protocols ahead of its return to service last week, which include universal Covid-19 testing for all guests and crew prior to embarkation; protected ashore visits at each destination only with an MSC Cruises excursion, and the introduction of a Covid Protection Plan for guests.

MSC Cruises will shortly launch another seven-night eastern Mediterranean sailing, departing on MSC Magnifica on 29 August. Ports of call include Bari, on Italy’s southern coast, Trieste and the Greek ports of Corfu, Katakolon and Piraeus (Athens).

According to the cruise line, these initial MSC Cruises sailings, and sailings up until 31 October 2020, will only be available for guests who are resident in Schengen countries in order to adhere to travel advice and restrictions.

At the end of July, Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten, which had resumed services the month before in Norway, was forced to suspend its services after dozens of passengers and crew were reported to have tested positive for coronavirus.

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