MSC Cruises to welcome UK passengers as soon as FCO allows

MSC GRANDIOSA, Passenger (Cruise) Ship - Details and current ...

British passengers will be able to board MSC Cruises ships as soon the UK Foreign Office’s advice against all ocean cruising is lifted.

The line’s UK managing director confirmed the plan to Travel Weekly ahead of the line’s resumption of sailings in the Mediterranean from this Sunday.

Currently, only passengers from Europe’s Schengen Area, and Switzerland, can board the sailings.

Flagship MSC Grandiosa will launch seven-night cruises in the Western Med from August 16 and MSC Magnifica seven-night itineraries in the Eastern Med from August 29.

All other cruises in the Mediterranean from August 16 through to October 31 have been cancelled, and cruises departing the US have also been suspended to October 31 in line with cruise association Clia’s recommendation.

Confirming that Brits would be welcome on board as soon as Foreign Office advice against cruising is lifted, Antonio Paradiso said: “As far as I am concerned, that is the only blocker.”

Viking extends suspension of cruises until end of year

Viking extends suspension of cruises until end of year

The first cruise line to cancel cruises in March due to the Covid-19 crisis has now extended its suspension of operations until the end of the year.

All Viking Cruises departures will be suspended until December 31.

“If itinerary changes are required, impacted guests and their travel agents are notified directly by Viking guest services,” the company said.

Affected passengers are being offered a 125% future cruise voucher or a refund which needs to be applied for by August 24.

Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said: “We are committed to maintaining the safest and healthiest fleet in the industry.

“We are fortunate to have a fleet of small, Norwegian-registered ocean ships with only 930 guests, and Switzerland-registered river ships with only 190 guests.

“We believe that our smaller ships – which feature spacious public areas and staterooms – provide a much safer environment than mega liners.

“We have always had the highest standards for health and cleanliness – and we are currently finalising additional protocols to make Viking safer, in co-operation with leading international experts. We will be sharing more information about this very soon.”

The line is continuing with the planned fleet expansion of its fleet next year with the launch of its seventh ocean ship, Viking Venus, as well as a new vessel on the Mekong, Viking Saigon.

New expedition vessels, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris are due for delivery in 2022 to operate in Antarctica, the Arctic and North America’s Great Lakes.

Eighth ocean ship, Viking Mars, is also due to be introduced in 2022 alongside Viking Mississippi, Viking’s first ship on a US river.

Hagen said in a message to customers: “On March 11, when we became the first cruise line to temporarily suspend operations at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I would not have imagined that in August we would still not be sailing and that I would be writing this letter to you.

“Every day I am encouraged by the scientific advancements toward Covid-19 therapeutics and a vaccine.

“But as you well know, recent events have shown us that the recovery from this pandemic will be sporadic, and the ability to travel freely across borders remains some time away.

“As keen as we may be to get back to exploring, for now, international travel must wait.

“Just last week, on August 5, we celebrated our 23rd anniversary.

“Viking is a very different company today from when we started in 1997 with four river ships. But one thing has not changed in the last two decades. Since Viking’s very first day, our commitment to the safety and welfare of all those onboard our vessels and to our mission – to deliver experiences that focus on the destination, allowing you to explore the world in comfort – has never wavered.

“I have said before that we will only sail again when it is safe to do so. We are a private, closely-held company, which means we do not have to rush the decision to return to service.”

Costa Prepares Gradual Restart Plan

Costa Smeralda

Following the authorization to cruise by the Italian Government, Costa Crociere prepares to gradually restart its operations in light of the new protocols that will be officialised soon, the company said.

Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia said: “We are extremely excited that we will be able to cruise again soon and we want to thank the Italian Government and all the authorities for their constant availability and support.

“The cruise industry and Costa specifically, as the only Italian cruise company, create significant value to the economy and to the destinations we visit. The gradual restart of our operations will give relief to the local economies in port communities and to the whole ecosystem of almost 5,000 suppliers and business partners, and over 7,500 travel agents, in Italy, who have been suffering from the pause of our activities.

“The resumption of our operations in this phase is also a great responsibility towards our guests, our crew members and the residents of the communities we visit. In the next days, we will be working closely with national and local authorities, ports and terminals, RINA and internally onboard our ships, for the full implementation of the protocols issued by the Italian Government so we can all together guarantee a smooth, well organized and safe restart of our cruises, both onboard and ashore. We look forward to announcing shortly the full program of our itineraries so that thousands of loyal Costa Guests can have the opportunity to sail again with us for the holiday they missed so much.”