MSC Magnifica has returned to service for MSC Cruises, departing on her first cruise since the coronavirus pandemic began, the second ship to do so for the cruise line.
The 10-day roundtrip cruise from Genoa will visit Livorno for visits to Florence and Pisa, Messina in Sicily, Piraeus for Athens, Katakolon for Olympia, Valletta, Malta and Civitavecchia for Rome.
MSC Magnifica’s cruise itinerary is different to that of MSC Grandiosa, the first MSC ship to return to service in that she will visit Greece and Malta in addition to Italian ports.
When MSC Grandiosa first returned to service several weeks ago, she stayed within Italian waters as part of the cruise line’s responsible return to service plan.
She recently began cruising further afield, but her most recent port call in Malta was denied boarding due to a suspected case of coronavirus, which later proved to be a false alarm.
MSC Cruises has carried more than 18,000 cruise passengers without incident, adhering to a strict health and safety protocol that entails “universal health screening” of everyone – guests and crew.
That health screening includes tests for COVID-19 before passengers can board the ship, elevated sanitation and cleaning measures throughout the vessel, social distancing, mandatory face masks in public areas, and the use of technology to aid track and trace on board.
MSC Cruises has turned away more than 180 passengers since it returned to service, either due to positive COVID-19 tests, or failure to abide by the cruise line’s policies.
One group of passengers aboard MSC Grandiosa, for example, was removed from the cruise when they left a shore excursion and explored independently.
Both MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises require passengers to remain with the shore excursion group at all times to ensure that passengers do not come into contact with members of the public.
MSC Magnifica and MSC Grandiosa’s capacity has also been reduced to 70 percent to ensure social distancing can be implemented effectively.
The cruise itineraries of both ships are currently available for booking for the residents of the Schengen area only, but MSC Cruises will soon be commencing its 2020/21 cruise season out of Dubai.
MSC Cruises is also in talks with the South African government to allow its upcoming cruise season out of Durban and Cape Town to go ahead.