Italian cruise operators have agreed with the Government to pause operations during the forthcoming holiday season.
Italy has imposed extensive travel restrictions during Christmas and the New Year, to try to alleviate the pandemic’s spread.
For example, travel restrictions will be tightened for residents limiting movement between regions, cities, and towns, as well as limiting the ability of individuals from other countries to travel to, through, and from Italy.
These increased limitations will operate from 21st December, 2020, to 6th January, 2021.
Costa Cruises has confirmed that it will suspend cruises from 20th December. Costa plans to resume ‘Costa Smeralda’ (pictured) sailings on 7th January, 2021, offering one-week cruises from Civitavecchia.
Costa will be offering the option of dividing the cruise into two short cruises of three and four days duration.
The operator had previously announced that it had planned to resume cruises on the ’Costa Deliziosa’ starting 26th December, with an Italian itinerary on the Adriatic Sea and the eastern Mediterranean.
MSC Cruises has also agreed to temporarily stop its cruise operations on board two of its cruise ships.
Starting on 20th December, MSC has cancelled three one-week sailings on board the ’MSC Grandiosa’ from Genoa. The line said that it expected to resume the Western Mediterranean cruises to the Italian ports and Malta on 10th January , 2021.
MSC had also planned to resume 10-night cruises with the ’MSC Magnifica’ to the western and eastern Mediterranean on 18th December, from Genoa. This programme has been postponed until 15th January, 2021.
Since 16th August, the ’MSC Grandiosa’ has carried more than 30,000 passengers on board, the company said.
Elsewhere, TUI Cruises announced that it had been forced to cancel its planned 35-day cruise from Germany to the Caribbean over the holidays.
As a replacement, TUI will add a three-week cruise on board ‘Mein Schiff 1’ around the Canary Islands for passengers who had been booked for the Caribbean cruise.
Due to start on 17th December, TUI is offering passengers a reduced price as an incentive to switch to the Canary Island cruise and in recognition of the disruption to people’s travel plans, the company said.
Other changes recently announced include NCL, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises have stopped until at least March, while Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas Cruises have announced an April start up, except for a few cruises open to local residents.
Carnival Corp’s Carnival Cruise Line has cancelled all sailings through the end of January and several February sailings. In addition, this week, CCL announced that it is to drydock three ships.
As part of a gradual, phased-in return to operations in 2021, CCL will defer the deployment of the vessels until after the work is completed, the company said.
CCL has cancelled cruises on the ‘Carnival Magic’ (up to the end of September next year, ‘Carnival Paradise’ (up to the end of May) and ‘Carnival Valor’ (up to the middle of September, 2021).
In addition, Carnival’s Princess Cruises and Holland America operations have cancelled all sailings through the end of March. Its luxury brand, Seabourn, has also cancelled sailings well into next year.
Cunard has also announced an extension of its pause in operations, due to the ongoing travel constraints in place worldwide.
Voyages departing on board ‘Queen Mary 2’ up to and including 28th May, 2021 and on board ‘Queen Elizabeth’ up to and including 4th June, 2021 have been cancelled.
Departures on ‘’Queen Victoria’ remain unaffected and are scheduled to resume on 17th May, 2021.
On 5th December, AIDA re-started operations with the ‘AIDAperla’, which sailed from Gran Canaria on her first revenue sailing since March.
It was believed that around 800 people were on board the 3,250 pax ship.
‘AIDAperla’ is offering seven-night round trips from Gran Canaria, calling at Santa Cruz de La Palma, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Arrecife, Lanzarote.
The cruise line had briefly resumed operation out of Germany in October but had to curtail operations due to the pandemic.
In Singapore, Royal Caribbean has had to curtail its ‘Quantum of the Seas’ cruises to nowhere, due to an alleged COVID case being detected on board last week.
She returned to Singapore on 9th December a day earlier than planned.
However, the Singapore Ministry of Health cleared ‘Quantum of the Seas’ to disembark her passengers after reporting that it received negative test results for the passenger suspected of having COVID-19.
After arriving in Singapore, the passenger suspected of having the virus was transferred by ambulance to a hospital. The Health Ministry reports that the National Public Health Laboratory re-tested the original sample and conducted an independent test. Both results were negative.
On board ‘Quantum of the Seas’, which was carrying 1,680 passengers as well as 1,148 crew, contact tracing was undertaken and also tested those who had close contacts with the passenger.
All of these tests were also negative. All of the passengers had to test negative before boarding for the four-day cruise.
As a precaution, RCI announced that the cruise due to depart from Singapore on 10th December had been cancelled. The cruise line said that the ship would be given a deep clean and that all crew members would be tested for the virus.
The Singapore Government said it would be closely monitoring the cruises, which it viewed as a pilot programme. It also said that it would suspend the operations if the health and safety protocols were not followed.