MSC Cruises has announced its restart plans for cruising from U.S. ports beginning this August, with Caribbean itineraries that include port calls at its new private island in the Bahamas.
MSC Cruises announcement follows the cruise line receiving CDC approval for its Phase 2A Port Agreements for PortMiami and Port Canaveral as well as the provisional approval of its request to conduct a simulation cruise.
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MSC Cruises has requested approval for a test cruise aboard MSC Meraviglia from PortMiami on July 17th, 2021. MSC Cruises is one of the only major cruise lines that has not implemented a vaccine mandate for any of its ships.
Cruise lines seeking CDC approval to resume cruises from the US are assessed on a ship-by-ship basis, those ships sailing without a vaccine mandate for passengers are required to sail test cruises under current Conditional Sailing Order regulations.
MSC Meraviglia will kick off MSC Cruises’ restart on August 2nd, 2021, with 3- and 4-night cruises from Miami to The Bahamas as well as MSC Cruises’ exclusive new private island destination, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
MSC Meraviglia will add 7-night cruises from Miami to The Bahamas and Caribbean from September 18th, 2021. These longer itineraries will also include calls in Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
MSC Divina will also resume cruising from Orlando (Port Canaveral) on September 16th, 2021, offering 3-, 4- and 7-night cruise options to The Bahamas and Caribbean, also including calls at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
“With our vast experience cruising in Europe since August 2020, along with our industry-leading health and safety protocol, our U.S. guests can book with confidence knowing we are well prepared for a successful restart in that market,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises.
“To ensure the safest experience for our guests, we previously announced a fleet-wide vaccination program for all crew, and we expect that the majority of our guests booking a cruise this summer will plan to be vaccinated prior to sailing,” he added.
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“The rapid distribution of vaccines in the U.S. has been a positive step toward helping vacationers get back to traveling, and we encourage our guests to take advantage of this added layer of protection when resuming travel this summer,” he added, but stopped short of mandating vaccination.
MSC Cruises was one of the first cruise lines in the world to resume operations, with cruises from Italy. It was soon joined by Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises and TUI.
The CLIA has previously said that just 50 COVID-19 cases have been detected on these cruises, which have carried in excess of 400,000 passengers, according to Cruise Law News, however, that figure is actually more than 200, meaning 0.0005% of passengers have been affected.
MSC Cruises will reveal additional itinerary details for cruises on board MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divina in the coming week, as well as health and safety measures and guidelines for guests.
Those who are not vaccinated or unable to verify vaccination will be subject to requirements such as additional testing, as well as restrictions, which will be announced at a later date, the cruise line said.
MSC Cruises also confirmed the cancellation of existing U.S.-based sailings. The decision will affect the schedules of three ships based in Florida: MSC Divina scheduled to sail from Port Canaveral, and MSC Meraviglia and MSC Armonia scheduled to sail from PortMiami.
The following cruise itineraries aboard these ships have been cancelled:
Cruises onboard MSC Divina from July 1, 2021 through to and including September 15, 2021
Cruises onboard MSC Meraviglia from July 1, 2021 through to and including September 17, 2021
Cruises onboard MSC Armonia from July 1, 2021 through to and including October 24, 2021
MSC Cruises’ new itineraries from the U.S. on board MSC Meraviglia and MSC Divina will open for U.S. bookings on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.