Barcelona, the busiest cruise port in Europe by annual passenger numbers, has reopened to cruises, with MSC Cruises resuming operations from the city with MSC Grandiosa.
MSC Grandiosa is the first cruise ship to sail from the port on international itineraries since the pandemic shut down the global cruise industry in March last year.
Passengers from Spain and other Schengen zone countries boarded the cruise ship on Saturday for her 7-night roundtrip cruise in the Mediterranean, visiting the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples and Palermo, as well as the Maltese capital Valetta.
MSC Grandiosa will be followed by Costa Smeralda later this week, along with several other cruise ships, including the world’s largest class of cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas and Norwegian Cruise Line.
“Barcelona is an integral part of our year-round itineraries in the Mediterranean and to see it reopen for our guests from Spain and other countries in Europe is extremely gratifying,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises.
“This was a very welcome addition to the ever-increasing number of ports that are opening for business after such a long pause in operations,” he added.
Barcelona is of strategic importance to MSC Cruises’ position as the market leader in Europe and is the leading cruise port in Europe by passenger numbers, with more than 2.7-million cruise tourists in 2019.
Earlier this month MSC Cruises received approval to build and operate an exclusive 11,670sqm cruise terminal, which is due for completion in 2024.
MSC said that it worked together with Spanish national and local including the Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Sanidad) and Ports of the State (Puertos del Estado) to “ensure that the health and safety measures implemented as part of the restart met and exceeded all local and national regulations.”
This includes arranging for guests who disembark in Barcelona to complete an antigen test within 48 hours of ending their cruise, while also providing COVID-19 travel insurance coverage.
MSC’s health and safety protocol was first implemented in August 2020 when MSC Grandiosa began sailing in the Mediterranean and, since then, the company has safely carried tens of thousands of guests.
More ports will reopen in the coming weeks across Europe and MSC Cruises’ phased restart of operations is “continuing as planned,” the cruise line said.
MSC Cruises is offering a choice of six different ships and itineraries this summer across the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.