Italy’s two major cruise lines MSC and Costa Cruises have been forced to suspend their cruise programs from the country due to a request from the Italian goverment as it battles a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
Both cruise lines have said that the temporary pause over the Christmas period is not due to the risk posed by cruise ship travel, but rather due to travel restrictions that will make it impossible for guests to reach embarkation ports.
“This is a temporary stop that, as stated by the Government itself, has never questioned the reliability of the health protocols adopted in collaboration with the Italian authorities,” Costa said in a press release.
“Those protocols represent a unique model in the tourism sector at an international level, and have proven their full effectiveness in the last 4 months of operation in Italy,” it added.
Costa said that during the holiday period, its ships would be in various ports and it would offer a special food donation program.
The cruise line will resume services with Costa Smeralda on January 7th, 2021 with one-week itineraries that only visit Italian ports and be divided into two short cruises of three and four days each, departing from Civitavecchia.
The four-day mini-cruise sails to Central and Southern Italy, with stops in Naples, Messina and Cagliari. The three-day cruise voyages to Central and Northern Italy, and includes visits to Civitavecchia, La Spezia and Savona.
MSC Cruises has also temporarily paused the operations of MSC Grandiosa, while the planned restart of MSC Magnifica has been pushed to January as a result of the new travel measures introduced by the Italian government for the Christmas and New Year period.
The new rules include extensive restrictions to people’s mobility across the entire country that will severely impact the ability of future guests – Italian residents, plus those from overseas – to reach any of the ships’ embarkation ports in Italy, the company said.
The Italian government has said it will tighten the movement of its residents between regions, cities and towns in its efforts to combat the pandemic ashore between 21st December, 2020 and 6th January, 2021.
This has caused the cancellation of three future planned voyages of MSC Grandiosa and three sailings of MSC Magnifica.
MSC Grandiosa will resume her Western Mediterranean cruises from Genoa on January. 10th, 2021, while MSC Magnifica, which was due to re-start 10-night voyages in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean on December 18th from Genoa, will now commence its season on January 15th, 2021 following the cancellation of three previous sailings.
MSC has also extended the temporary pause of its US-based sailings through to and including February 28th, 2021. The decision will affect the schedules of three ships based in Florida: MSC Seaside in Port Canaveral, and MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia both in PortMiami.