Updated on August 8 and 24
British holidaymakers will not be welcome when MSC Cruises resumes sailings in the Mediterranean this month.
Only residents of Schengen countries will be allowed on board MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica, which excludes travellers from the UK and Ireland.
Grandiosa will offer seven-night cruises in the western Med from August 16 calling at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples and Palermo, as well as Valletta in Malta.
MSC Cruises video celebrating the return to the seas
Magnifica will serve the eastern Med ports from September 26, departing from the Italian cities of Bari and Trieste on seven-night cruises calling at Corfu, Katakolon and Piraeus (Athens) in Greece.
Itineraries have been planned to reduce the need for guests to use public transport or flights.
In an announcement this morning, Swiss-based MSC spelt out new health and safety protocols, including screening all guests and crew with a swab test before boarding and allowing only MSC shore excursions in port.
As well as new cleaning methods and hospital-grade disinfectants, UV-C light will be used to kill 99.7 per cent of microbes. Guests’ temperatures will be checked daily when they return from shore or at stations around the ship.
With sailings only 70 per cent full, social distancing will be maintained by modifying facilities and activities to allow for smaller groups. Face masks will be provided daily in cabins for use when necessary.
In the buffet, food will be plated and handed to guests.
In a press conference, MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato said wearable technology on MSC Grandiosa would be used to trace contacts who had spent more than 15 minutes within a metre of any suspected coronavirus cases. The data will be destroyed 14 days after passengers have left the ship.
But after outlining all the new protocols he insisted cruises would still be ‘enjoyable, relaxing and fun’.
Antonio Paradiso, the line’s MD for UK & Ireland, said: ‘While UK and Irish guests aren’t yet able to cruise with us, we hope that by sharing our stringent and robust health and safety operating protocol that we can provide guests with the confidence and assurance they need to book cruises for the upcoming winter season and, of course, into summer 2021.’
The bad news for Britons came on the day that Norwegian line Hurtigruten cancelled a series of UK sailings next month after an outbreak of coronavirus on its ship Roald Amundsen.