MSC Cruises is to offer itineraries on 14 ships from the end of October, but has barred UK guests from a planned late summer Mediterranean season.
The winter season is pencilled in from 31 October after a “potential” summer restart in the Mediterranean. However, only guests from Schengen countries will “initially” be allowed on board the summer sailings.
MSC said guests travelling from a country deemed ‘high risk’ by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) would need to take a swab test within 72 hours prior to the ship’s departure. This is seen as an obstacle to UK sales.
MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica are positioned in the Mediterranean ready for a summer restart. MSC Grandiosa will offer seven-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean and MSC Magnifica will serve the East Mediterranean.
The Italian brand’s UK and Ireland managing director, Antonio Paradiso, said: “‘Whilst UK and Irish guests aren’t yet able to cruise with us, there are some great opportunities available for UK and Irish agents for cruises this winter and into Summer 2021.
“We have 14 ships sailing in winter 20/21 increasing to 19 ships by August 2021 visiting destinations across the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Northern Europe and South Africa and South America, as well as some excellent value Grand Voyages.”
He said flexible booking conditions were in place to inspire confidence in consumers.
MSC said actual departure dates for this summer’s cruises would “be determined in accordance with the guidelines received by the relevant authorities”. Planned itineraries include Greece and Malta where authorities have re-opened ports to cruising and which have approved MSC’s health and safety protocol.
All guests will undertake health screening prior to embarkation, with a temperature check, a health questionnaire and a Covid-19 swab test.