• Flagship MSC Grandiosa to welcome back guests in the West Mediterranean from August 16 and MSC Magnifica in the East Mediterranean from August 29
• Return to operations supported by introduction of comprehensive health and safety protocol approved by relevant national authorities along the two ships’ itineraries
• MSC Cruises to go beyond guidelines with enhanced measures including universal testing for all guests and crew as well as safe ashore visits at each port
MSC Cruises announced today that flagship MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will resume operations in the Mediterranean starting from August 16 and 29, 2020 respectively, offering guests full-experience cruise vacations with the opportunity to discover five different destinations during a seven-night cruise. The two ships will be the first to implement a new comprehensive health and safety protocol that has been approved by the relevant national authorities from the countries that the ships will call along their East and West Mediterranean itineraries this summer.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman commented, “During the pause in our operations we focused on developing a comprehensive operating protocol that builds upon already stringent health and safety measures that have long been in place on board our ships. We have worked closely with the relevant EU-level, national health and other authorities from the countries that MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will call along their Mediterranean itineraries to develop a comprehensive set of procedures designed to protect the health and safety of all passengers on board our ships as well as ashore to ensure that local communities feel comfortable welcoming our guests.”
Pierfrancesco Vago continued, “The new procedures include universal COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew prior to embarkation, protected ashore visits at each destination only with an MSC Cruises’ excursion as an added level of protection for our guests and the introduction of a COVID Protection Plan for further peace of mind for our guests. With all of these measures in place, we aim to offer our guests the safest possible vacation.”
MSC Grandiosa, the Company’s flagship, will offer seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean calling at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valetta. MSC Magnifica will offer seven-night cruises in the Eastern Mediterranean departing from the Italian ports of Bari and Trieste and calling at the Greek ports of Corfu, Katakolon and Piraeus.
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO commented, “We are very pleased to be able to start welcoming back guests for full-experience cruise vacations this summer on board two of our most popular ships — including our flagship MSC Grandiosa — and in the Mediterranean, the very region where our Company’s roots are and we have long been market leaders.”
MSC Cruises’ new operating protocol has been designed to protect the health and safety of guests and crew as well as the local communities that the Company’s ships visit. For this reason, it meets and goes beyond guidelines provided by key international and regional regulatory and technical bodies, as well as regulations set forth by the governments in the countries in which MSC Cruises’ ships operate. Additionally, RINA, the independent maritime certification corporation, has verified that the protocol meets the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Guidance, which incorporates additional health standards including those from the EU Healthy Gateways Joint Action. MSC Cruises has worked to encompass every aspect of the guest’s journey from the moment of booking, embarkation and life on board through to disembarkation and the return home, while preserving the uniqueness of the guest experience.
For this initial phase of the restart of operations, the two MSC Cruises’ ships operating in the Mediterranean for the current summer season will initially only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries. Additionally, their itineraries have been designed according to the accessibility of the ports, reducing — where possible — the need for guests to use public transport or flights, and have been planned in conjunction with the authorities.
MSC Cruises has today canceled all other cruises in the Mediterranean from August 16 through to and including October 31, 2020. In addition, MSC Cruises announced the cancellation of all U.S. cruise departures through to and including October 31, 2020, in line with the announcement that CLIA members will voluntarily extend the suspension of cruise operations to this date. CLIA stated that “This proactive action further demonstrates the cruise industry’s commitment to public health and willingness to voluntarily suspend operations in the interest of public health and safety, as has occurred twice prior.” MSC Cruises will only restart operations in the U.S. when the time is right, following approval by the CDC and other relevant authorities across the region in observance of their requirements and guidelines.
Finally, MSC Cruises also canceled the Far East cruises from September 10 through to and including October 26.
Guests booked through MSC Cruises USA or affiliated US-based travel advisors on Mediterranean sailings between August 16 and October 31, Caribbean sailings between October 1 and October 31 and impacted Far East cruises through October 26, will receive a 125% Future Cruise Credit of the original cruise fare to be used on a sailing on or before December 31, 2021. Guests who prefer to receive a refund instead of a Future Cruise Credit can visit MSCCruises.com for more information on how to complete their request with an easy to use online form.
Beyond the summer itineraries announced today, MSC Cruises is following the evolution of the pandemic and a gradual introduction of other ships coming into service is possible during this same summer period.
Today’s announcement follows the confirmation of full details of MSC Cruises’ programs between November this year and November 2021, covering the Fall and Winter 2020/2021 and the Spring, Summer and Fall 2021 seasons. Ships will offer guests itineraries across all the regions traditionally served by MSC Cruises in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, the Gulf, South Africa, South America and Asia.
Regarding MSC Cruises’ itineraries beyond the current summer season, Gianni Onorato concluded: “We will closely monitor updates and new guidelines at a global, European and national level and will continuously review and update our health and safety protocol to make sure that its measures reflect the most updated medical know-how and technology as it becomes available as well as reflect in it the different phases in the evolution and spread of the virus and as social restrictions change over time. To this end, with time, and in line with the development of the health situation ashore, we are hoping to be able to relax certain measures while continuing to ensure that the health and safety of everyone on board our ships remains our utmost priority. At the same time, we will always make sure that our guests can enjoy and relax while on vacation on board one of MSC Cruises ships, the way they always have – now including this summer.”
About MSC Grandiosa
The Company’s new flagship, MSC Grandiosa, launched in November 2019. She is the first Meraviglia-plus generation ship and offers a richness of guest experiences, an iconic Mediterranean-style promenade with LED sky screen, a wide choice of international dining options including five specialty restaurants and an enhanced MSC Yacht Club. MSC Grandiosa is the second MSC Cruises’ ship to feature ZOE, the world’s first virtual cruise personal assistant and new updates to the innovative MSC for Me digital innovation program. Cirque du Soleil at Sea will be temporarily suspended on board MSC Grandiosa for the short-term, due to the challenging travel restrictions for the international artists who perform in the shows. Live music performances will be offered in the stunning Carousel Lounge at the aft of the ship, including a theatrically staged concert - The Beatles – A Musical Celebration and Who’s Who A 60’s Musical Celebration.
About MSC Magnifica
MSC Magnifica will enable guests to travel in true comfort and style. The ship boasts masterful design and relaxed refinement, with all of the features that distinguish any MSC Cruises ship, including one of the highest ratios of balcony staterooms in the fleet, extended dining areas with four restaurants and 11 bars, modern and comfortable accommodations as well as a wide range of entertainment and leisure activities. Key features include a swimming pool with magrodome, a spectacular theater, full-scale casino, panoramic discotheque, 4D cinema and much more. On board, guests feel the attention to detail in service and design that is a trademark for MSC Cruises.