Royal Caribbean Group ‘will learn from MSC and Tui restarts’

MSC Grandiosa - Wikipedia

Royal Caribbean Group boss Richard Fain has pledged to learn from the “small sample” of cruise lines that have restarted operations in recent weeks.

Speaking to travel agents on a webcast on online trade hub RCL Cares, Fain, the group’s chairman and chief executive, highlighted lines such as Tui Cruises and MSC Cruises, which have both started sailing again.

Fain said that it had been “encouraging” to see their return, adding that Costa Cruises appeared to be “a few weeks” away from joining them.

Fain said: “We are not through this yet but there are more bright spots and bits of good news than there have been for quite a while.

“We are closer to the other side of this crisis every day. It is also encouraging to see cruising start-up in other parts of the world.

“In Germany, our joint venture company Tui Cruises has been operating cruises since late July. In Italy, MSC Cruises started operating there just last week and has attracted a lot of really very positive publicity.

“We understand that Costa Cruises is operating there in just a few weeks. While this is just a small sample, we always said that we’d start slowly and methodically and we’re going to learn from these early efforts.”

Fain also used the webcast to introduce Dr Calvin Johnson, the group’s recently appointed head of public health and chief medical officer.

Asked by Fain why he had decided to apply for the role, Johnson said: “I saw the opportunity to apply my skills in a really meaningful and substantive way during probably the most significant health crisis in our time.

“It is the nature of the work. It is the opportunity to serve 75,000 crew and to protect their health and to serve four to six million guests a year and to protect their health. I am all focusing on the protection of health.”

MSC Grandiosa Departs Genoa For First Cruise With New Protocols

MSC Grandiosa

The MSC Grandiosa departed Genoa on Sunday night for the start of MSC’s first cruise since it paused operations in March due to COVID-19.

Sailing with trimmed occupancy and 10 per cent of staterooms set aside for isolation, MSC’s flagship will visit Civitavecchia/Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valletta.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO commented: “It is a real pleasure for me to be here and sail onboard the first of our ships to return to service and to be able to welcome back our guests. Our main goal during these last months has been to put in place the right measures that will protect the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities we visit. But at the same time, we have worked to ensure that we are able to provide our guests with a cruise holiday that they can enjoy and still experience all of the elements that they know and love from entertainment and activities onboard through to protected ashore visits.”

MSC becomes the third big-ship line to restart operations, following TUI Cruises, which restarted from Germany in July, and Dream Cruises, sailing in Taiwan.

In addition, MSC clarified it 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

A second MSC ship, the MSC Magnifica, will debut into operation later this month sailing cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Among health, protocols are universal health screening of guests prior to embarkation that comprises three comprehensive steps: a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a COVID-19 swab test. Depending on the screening results and according to the guest’s medical or travel history, a secondary health screening or testing will take place. Any guest who tests positive displays symptoms or a temperature will be denied boarding.

The ship will also see elevated sanitation and cleaning measures supported by the introduction of new cleaning methods, the use of hospital-grade disinfectant products and the sanitation of the air on board with UV-C light technology that kills 99.97% of microbes.

Ongoing health monitoring will also be conducted throughout the cruise. Guests and crew will have their temperature checked daily either when they return from ashore or at dedicated stations around the ship to monitor the health status of every guest and crew member.

Guests and crew will only go ashore as part of an organized MSC excursion.

TUI to Add Mein Schiff 6 Back in September, Cruising From Crete

Mein Schiff 6

The TUI Cruises restart is going so well the company is expanding to three ships as the Mein Schiff 6 will sail round-trip cruises from Crete in September with port calls.

The first week-long sailing will depart on Sept. 13.

Guests will be allowed to take company-organized shore excursions in Athens, Crete and Corfu.

TUI said it will dramatically expand shore excursion capacity so all guests can partake. The ship is expected to operate at 60 per cent occupancy.

The Mein Schiff 1 and Mein Schiff 2 will continue with their “Blue Voyages” (no port calls) in the North and Baltic Sea, offering five- and seven-day cruises in September, according to the company.

For the time being all departures of the Mein Schiff fleet (departures from September) will require a negative COVID-19 test result (PCR test). The costs for this are already included in the travel price.

Before the new crew comes on board, they are tested for COVID-19 shoreside. Only crewmembers who have tested negative can come on board and then they also go into 14-day individual isolation on a balcony cabin before they begin working.