(updated 12:40 p.m. EST) -- Two cruise lines that had resumed sailing in Italy, MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, have temporarily suspended some sailings from that country, due to lockdown restrictions in Italy. In mid-November, Ponant joined them by suspending sailing through the end of 2020.
On December 23, MSC further moved MSC Magnifica's restart date to February 14, 2021, owing to lockdown restrictions in Greece.
Meanwhile Costa Cruises, which was operating Costa Smerelda on round-Italy cruises, will pause its operations until January 7, 2021.
Both lines cited the severe restrictions on people's movement that are being put into place in Italy.
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MSC released the following statement: "The government in Italy has announced that it will nearly completely restrict the movement of residents no longer only between regions, but now also between cities and towns in its efforts to combat the pandemic ashore. These measures will apply to residents of Italy between 21 December, 2020 and 6 January, 2021. They will effectively also restrict the ability of residents of other countries to travel to and through Italy.
"The new decree has thus caused the cancellation of three future planned voyages of MSC Grandiosa and three sailings of MSC Magnifica."
Costa relased the following statement: "The cruise suspension does not only affect the Company, but the entire ecosystem that depends on cruises, such as travel agencies, shipyards, ports and local activities of destinations visited by ships the ports and local activities of the destinations visited by the ships, that the Company helped to restart in the second half of the year.
"The cancellation of Christmas and New Year's Eve cruises, among the most popular of the year, therefore represents a further economic sacrifice for Costa Cruises and the entire industry, in a period that was already very difficult for the entire sector, that relied on these operations."
MSC to Resume Sailing in January
When MSC Magnifica resumes sailings, it will return to its current 10-night itinerary across the Eastern and Western Mediterranean until the end of April 2021 calling at ports in Italy, Greece and Malta. The line is also cancelling its 2021 World Cruise, which was due to be on MSC Magnifica.
MSC's second operating ship, MSC Grandiosa will continue offering seven-night itineraries in the Western Mediterranean with embarkation in Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo, Italy as well as calling Valetta, Malta, until March 27, 2021.
- Additional onboard testing for all guests mid-way through their cruise (on top of the existing pre-boarding universal testing for all guests)
- Testing of all crew during their time on board is increased from twice-a-month to weekly (in addition to pre-boarding testing for all crew and other ongoing health monitoring measures)
- Increased frequency of onboard sanitation, in particular of public areas and high touch points
- Tightening of the definition of close contact for tracing purposes, reducing the time that individuals are in contact from 15 minutes to 10 minutes
** Costa To Resume Sailing One Ship
When Costa Deliziosa resumes sailing, it will begin an Italian itinerary visiting Trieste, Bari, Brindisi and Catania. More destinations will be added in the coming weeks.
Costa Smeralda, the second Costa ship currently in service, will continue its cruises dedicated to Italy as scheduled, observing the enhanced health protocols introduced by the company.
** Ponant Suspends Through End of 2020
On November 19, the French line Ponant announced that it would suspend all northern hemisphere cruises through the end of 2020.
"The safety and security of passengers, crew members and the locals of the regions visited remains PONANT's priority," the line said in a statement.
Passeengers on cancelled voyages will receive a credit of 120 percent of the amount paid, which can be applied to a future sailing.