(1:30 p.m. EDT) -- Editor's Note: As of April 9, all cruise ships over 250 passengers and crew that operate in U.S. waters have been put under a no-sail order by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The order will remain in place until COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency, and supersedes individual cruise line dates for a return to service. For more information, visit our news story.
MSC Cruises has further extended the global suspension of all its cruise operations from July 10 to July 31.
The line is giving all booked passengers a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) which allows them to transfer the full amount paid for their cancelled cruise to a future cruise of their choice -- on any ship, for any itinerary -- through to the end of 2021. In addition, passengers will receive an additional 25 percent FCC to be used alongside the 100 percent voucher.
To provide additional flexibility at this uncertain time, MSC Cruises has extended the dates for the Cruise Assurance Program (Flexible Cruise Programme in the UK & Ireland) to include all sailings through to the end of October.
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MSC Cruises’ Flexible Cruise Programme allows passengers who are already booked on an MSC Cruises ship, either directly or through a travel agent, to reschedule their cruise to a future departure date through to 31 December 2021. Passengers and their travel agents will be able to transfer any such bookings at no cost, to any ship with any itinerary in the MSC Cruises fleet.
The line, however, did sound a positive note, confirming a full 2021 summer sailing program, starting in March 2021, which will include two new ships currently under construction -- MSC Virtuosa and MSC Seashore -- and a series of new or enriched itineraries and homeports. Also announced were new itineraries aboard MSC Divina, departing from Port Canaveral (Orlando) -- a first for MSC.
Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises, said: "While today we have taken the difficult decision to further extend the halt of operations of all our ships, it is important that we also look ahead as we know that our customers are dreaming of travel and are wanting to plan their holidays for next year. For this reason, we have now also confirmed our full summer programme for 2021.
"Shorter-term, our ships will return to service only when the time is right, in phases and by region, and following guidance from the relevant national and international health and other regulatory authorities and the support of a new operating protocol especially focused on health and safety, which we will announce soon. This way, gradually, all of our ships will return to sea between then and the beginning of our summer 2021 season."