Costa Cruises has modified its cruise resumption plans, with the announcement that bookings will only be available to Italian residents initially, and both itineraries will only visit Italian ports, instead of Greece and Malta.
The move comes in response to travel restrictions announced this week by the Italian government, that will require foreign travelers to the country to undergo COVID-19 testing. Although the cruise line could have still taken international bookings, it said it was taking a more cautious approach.
“The decision was made considering the evolution of the epidemiological scenario and taking in account the regulation issued today by the Italian Ministry of Health regarding mandatory checks for travellers returning from some European and foreign destinations,” the cruise line said in a statement.
“This suggests a cautious approach. Therefore, this solution will allow Costa guests to better enjoy their holiday, with less worries,” the statement added. Costa is hoping to welcome guests from outside Italy by October.
Costa said it will continue to work in close cooperation with Flag State authorities, local authorities in Italian regions, local institutions, health authorities, harbour master’s offices, ports and terminals and RINA to ensure a responsible and smooth return to service.
The change in plans underscores the fluid nature of the response to the coronavirus and the number of authorities involved and regulations that need to be followed.
Costa said it is doing its best to follow a well-organized application of the new regulations and protocols approved by the Italian Government for the restart of cruises.
The company also re-confirmed the extension of the pause on all the other cruises (except those of Costa Deliziosa and Costa Diadema) until September 30th, 2020.
“Costa is informing the impacted Guests and travel agents. They will be guaranteed a reprotection in accordance with the applicable legislation,” the cruise line said in its statement.
“Costa is working for a responsible and safe resumption of its cruises, tirelessly monitoring the epidemiological situation that is constantly evolving,” it added. “The company hopes that from October the situation will allow to welcome on board its ships also guests of other nationalities.”
Ahead of its return to service, Costa Cruises developed the Costa Safety Protocol for its fleet, including new operating procedures in response to COVID-19.
It put together a panel of independent scientific experts in Public Health coordinated by V.I.H.T.A.L.I. (Value in Health Technology and Academy for Leadership and Innovation), a spin-off of the Università Cattolica of Rome.
The Costa Safety Protocol is consistent with the health protocols defined by the Italian Government and European (EU Healthy Gateways) authorities. Costa says the protocol will be constantly updated based on the evolution of the pandemic and medical knowledge.