MSC Grandiosa departed Genoa, Italy on Sunday evening, resuming her previously announced 7-night roundtrip itineraries in the Mediterranean and marking MSC Cruises’ second return to cruising since the pandemic began last year.
MSC Cruises’ restart of cruise operations comes amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe and across the world due to several new variants of the coronavirus that are believed to be more contagious.
The cruise line had resumed cruises in Italy in August last year alongside Costa Cruises, but while Costa has decided to pause its resumption until the end of January, MSC Cruises believes its strict anti-COVID protocols will ensure the safety of passengers and the wider community.
MSC suspended operations in March last year along with the rest of the industry before resuming cruises in August. As COVID cases rose in the latter half of the year, it suspended cruises for a second time despite a 100% safety rate on its limited resumption.
The decision to pause operations in December came as a result of an Italian government decree that restricted movement within the country, according to a press release.
MSC Grandiosa carried more than 30,000 guests during her brief return to service last year, with some guests even choosing to extend their stay on board by one or more weeks, according to MSC.
The anti-COVID protocols developed by the cruise line, which are unique in the hospitality industry and have been approved by national authorities in Italy, Greece and Malta, are being used as the basis to inform and support plans to restart cruising in other parts of the world.
They include mandatory COVID-19 testing of all passengers and crew prior to each voyage, enhanced disinfection and cleaning proceedures throughout the ship, social distancing measures while aboard, mask wearing in public spaces and shore excursion ‘bubbles’.
The shore excursion bubbles ensure that no passengers or crew interact with members of the public on land, mitigating the risk of bringing COVID-19 aboard the ship.
MSC Cruises also allows guests to embark the vessel in each Italian port the ship goes to. Enabling guests onboard to travel minimal distances while ensuring cross country travel within Italy is minimized.
MSC Grandiosa is the cruise line’s newest ship. The 4,888-guest, 181,541-gross ton vessel is the latest in MSC’s Meraviglia Plus-class.
She features an enhanced MSC Yacht Club, two brand new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, and a wide choice of international dining options, offering 8 dining venues and 12 bars & lounges.
Families have access to a range of original activities and dedicated kids’ areas.
MSC Grandiosa also features ZOE, the world’s first virtual cruise personal assistant in every cabin and new updates to the MSC for Me digital innovation program.