(5:08 p.m. EDT) -- MSC Grandiosa today became the first ship from the MSC Cruises fleet to restart cruising in the Mediterranean after a five month pause.
The 6,200-passenger ship which will embark and disembark around 2,500 passengers over the course of the week, set sail from Genoa today and will call in at Naples, Palermo and then Valetta in Malta, before returning to Genoa on Sunday.
MSC Grandiosa is the first ship to to implement the line's strict health and safety protocols, which include universal health screening at embarkation, daily temperature checks, a health questionnaire and increased and enhanced sanitation onboard.
"It is a real pleasure for me to be here and sail on board the first of our ships to return to service and to be able to welcome back our guests," said Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises' CEO.
"Our main goal during these last months has been to put in place the right measures that will protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit.
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"But at the same time, we have worked to ensure that we are able to provide our guests with a cruise holiday that they can enjoy and still experience all of the elements that they know and love from entertainment and activities on board through to protected ashore visits.”
The first guests began embarking the flagship this morning, arriving at the cruise terminal according to their allocated time slots and followed the new universal screening procedures.
All guests received a complimentary MSC for Me wristband, which provides them with contactless options whilst on board such as opening the cabin or making payments and will also help to facilitate proximity and contact tracing, if needed.
Additionally, over the past several weeks, all crew members have gone through similarly stringent health screening measures, which included three COVID-19 tests in various phases as well as a period of isolation before commencing their duties. Each crew member will then be regularly tested and their health monitored.
The line joins TUI as the first big ship line to resume cruising in Europe, as well as Dream Cruises in Taiwan.
German line Aida is due to resume cruising shortly, and a number of other smaller lines have also restarted, including Variety Cruises, the first line to resume operations in the Eastern Med.
MSC Magnifica will resume cruising in the Eastern Mediterranean later this month, followed by the gradual resumption of the rest of the fleet.
At present, the cruises are only available to citizens of Schengen countries.