MSC Cruises joins UK fray as cruises prepare to resume, with no vaccine required

MSC Cruises has joined P&O, Fred Olsen, Viking, Princess and Cunard in offering a range of short UK cruises during the British summer, and says a vaccine won’t be required.

MSC says it will soon be releasing a “special range of short breaks and week-long cruises around the British Isles” in summer 2021, starting from May 20th”.

MSC Cruises

MSC didn’t say which cruise ship would be deployed in the UK, but its widely expected to be Magnifica

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Like the other cruise lines, MSC Cruises says the itineraries will only be available for booking by UK residents.

The cruise line’s release is short on details, such as the ship it will be deploying in the UK, or the cruise itineraries it will be sailing, but MSC Cruises did confirm that all departures will be from Southampton.

The first sailings will a series of short cruises and will be followed by seven-night sailings visiting “some of the UK’s favorite destinations and offering additional ports of embarkation to guests,” according to the press release.

“It’s time for UK holidaymakers to get back onboard and enjoy a well-deserved break from what has been a very challenging 12 months for everyone in so many ways,” said Antonio Paradiso, the Managing Director for MSC Cruises UK & Ireland.

“Our hope is to offer every type of holidaymaker the chance to escape this summer – from grandparents to teens and even the smallest of passengers looking to explore,” he added.

MSC Cruises’ Magnifica is one of two ships it returned to service in Europe late last year

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Using the cruise line’s experience operating the first post-pandemic cruises in the Mediterranean, Paradisosaid vaccinations will not be necessary and MSC will instead require COVID-19 testing 72 hours prior to boarding.

MSC Cruises has carried more than 50,000 guests since its restart of operations in August, 2020 using a health and safety protocol that has prevented any outbreaks aboard its ships.

“It is built around a comprehensive strategy that includes universal testing of all guests and crew prior to embarkation and periodically throughout the cruise, deep and ongoing sanitation, protected-only shore excursions, as well as many other measures that we are used to in our daily lives, such as social distancing and the wearing of face coverings,” said Paradiso.

“We will sail with a reduced capacity so that guests have even more space,” he added.

According to Paradiso, MSC Cruises is also working on a program of protected shore excursions for its guests to experience the destinations it will visit, but “of course, this is subject to prevailing circumstances and local guidance at the time of sailing.”

MSC Cruises hasn’t confirmed which cruise ship it will deploy in the UK, but according to Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises, it may be MSC Magnifica.

“Today’s plan is the presence of Magnifica in the UK and that still stands,” he told Travel Weekly. “But we are having a sort of reshuffling of all our itineraries, so there might be, in this reshuffling, the opportunity to have a bigger ship.”

“There might be a bigger ship or more than one ship and we’re going to communicate this very, very soon,” he added.

MSC Magnifica was already scheduled to cruise from Southampton for the 2022 summer cruise season, and has home-ported in the city previously.

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