(Updated 11:30 a.m. EDT) -- Costa Cruises will restart cruising in the Mediterranean on September 6 following successful negotiations with the Italian authorities.
These initial sailings will be just for Italian nationals, the line confirmed.
The Carnival Corp.-owned line will start with one ship Costa Deliziosa on September 6, offering week-long cruises from Trieste to the Southern Italian ports of Bari, Brindisi, Corigliano-Rossano, Siracusa and Catania in Sicily.
On September 19, Costa Diadema will set sail, operating seven-day itineraries from Genoa to Malta and including stops in the Italian ports of Civitavecchia (for Rome), Naples, Palermo, Cagliari and La Spezia.
On August 20, Costa announced additional departure dates for Costa Deliziosa from Trieste on September 13, 20 and 27. Along with the September 6 departure of Costa Deliziosa and the September 19 departure of Costa Diadema, these new sailings will be available on Costa's website and in travel agencies beginning the week of August 24.
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However, Costa is also extending the pause of its cruise season until September 30, 2020, except for the above-mentioned ships.
The news comes just days after MSC Cruises announced it would restart cruises in Italy this Sunday (Aug 16) and the Eastern Mediterranean on August 29.
Like MSC, Costa has now announced that passengers will only be allowed on-shore on what it is calling "protected shore excursions" offered by Costa. This is being done to maintain the integrity of the COVID-free "bubble" onboard, and to protect local port communities. Independent visits ashore will not be allowed for the time being.
"We are extremely excited that we will be able to cruise again soon and we want to thank the Italian Government and all the authorities for their constant availability and support," stated Michael Thamm, Group CEO Costa Group and Carnival.
"The resumption of our operations in this phase is also a great responsibility towards our guests, our crew members and the residents of the communities we visit."
Thamm added that the line would work closely with the Italian authorities to ensure a "responsible restart" of cruising.
He said it would be a gradual restart of operations and would adhere strictly to new health protocols.
Costa has already announced many of these enhanced protocols, which include requiring passengers to wear masks in all indoor spaces and in outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible; daily temperature checks for passengers and crew; limited capacity on the line's initial voyages, and social distancing procedures will be in effect onboard and ashore.
In addition, new filtration systems will be fitted to the HVAC setup on each vessel.
He added: "The resumption of our operations in this phase is also a great responsibility towards our guests, our crew members and the residents of the communities we visit.
"In the next days, we will be working closely with national and local authorities, ports and terminals, RINA and internally on board our ships, for the full implementation of the protocols issued by the Italian Government so we can all together guarantee a smooth, well organized and safe restart of our cruises, both on board and ashore."
Costa will become one of just a handful of big ship lines to resume service, following Dream Cruises in Taiwan, TUI in Germany and MSC Cruises.