Mediterranean cruise sets sail after COVID-19 stops


(ROME) – Cruise ship passengers had their temperatures checked and tested for COVID-19 on Sunday so they could embark on what is billed as the first cruise in the Mediterranean after the pandemic lockdown in Italy.
MSC Cruise Line has incorporated procedures, both for crew and passengers, into its new health and safety protocols. MSC Grandiosa, which was christened last year, left the port of Genoa in northern Italy on Sunday evening for a seven-night cruise in the western Mediterranean.
Anyone who tested positive, or had a fever, or exhibited other symptoms of COVID-19 were denied boarding, the company said. The crew spent time in quarantine before the cruise began.
Earlier this month, the Italian government agreed to cruise ships leaving Italian ports again, but limited cruise ships to 70% capacity.
MSC declined to say how many passengers were on this cruise. Among the port stops for Grandiosa, MSC’s flagship, are Naples, Palermo, Sicily and Valletta, Malta. (Malta is one of four Mediterranean countries that Italy now requires arriving travelers to take COVID-19 tests.)
For now, MSC has limited its guests to residents of the Schengen visa-free travel zone, which has 26 European countries.
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The MSC said that every guest and crew member on board would receive a bracelet that “facilitates contactless transactions around the ship and keeps track of contacts and proximity.”
Cruise ships and the activities they bring to many Italian cities on port excursions are an important segment of Italy’s vital tourism industry. According to industry figures, around 12 million cruise ship passengers arrived or left Italian ports last year or made stops in Italy.

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