Sailing Success in Europe
Although cruising hasn’t yet returned in North America, there are some cruise and river lines that have started sailing again in Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and you may just wonder … how’s it going?
Toward the end of August, MSC Cruises completed its first successful sailing implementing its comprehensive health and safety guidelines. The MSC Grandiosa sailed with approximately 3,000 passengers, which is at a 60 percent capacity from Genoa, Italy, for a 7-night West Mediterranean cruise. The MSC Magnifica is slated to resume sailings on September 26 departing from Bari, Italy.
On one of its first sailings of the Grandiosa, the line experienced an incident in which they had to reinforce the strict safety protocols put in place to protect its passengers and crew. MSC denied re-embarkation to a family who had separated from a shore excursion group during a port stop in Naples, Italy. At this time, MSC is only allowing line-coordinated port excursions where transportation, social distancing and health screenings are at the same high standards being maintained onboard. In this case, as the family had separated from the MSC coordinated group they were denied to reboard the ship.
In addition, AmaWaterways has been sailing the AmaKristina, which began operating Rhine River charter cruises July 5 with the German tour operator e-hoi. New health protocols are in place, and capacity is limited to 100 instead of 156. They have been doing this successfully with no positive COVID cases.
On the morning of Sunday, September 13, Costa Cruises Costa Deliziosa ship completed her first cruise since the pause, returning to Trieste, Italy and departing once again late on Sunday afternoon. On its heels, Costa Diadema arrived in Genoa on Monday, September 14, to prepare for her first restart cruise set for September 19. Costa’s Safety Protocol includes antigen swab tests for all guests before embarkation and protected shore excursions that are supported by a panel of independent scientific experts in public health and which are consistent with the health protocols defined by the Italian government and European authorities. The protocol will be constantly updated based on the evolution of the scenario and medical knowledge.
SeaDream Yacht Club was among one of the first lines to restart service with its sailings resuming in June around Norway. The line is currently sailing two ships, SeaDream I and SeaDream II on itineraries covering the Norwegian Fjords, Lofoten Islands and Denmark. Royal Caribbean’s TUI Cruises has also resumed sailing on two of its ships in Germany with itineraries containing only ‘at sea’ days. On Sunday, September 13, TUI became the first major cruise line to restart Greek Island voyages with the sailing of the Mein Schiff 6 out of Heraklion.
This is definitely good news for the cruise industry following months of unfair media coverage and the shaky restart experienced by some of the smaller cruise companies. This also helps influence the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and creates a strong foundation for other cruise lines to follow their lead as they continue to make plans for their return.