MSC Cruises will launch a series of sailings over the summer throughout Europe, offering one of the most robust restarts to the cruising industry since COVID-19 stymied travel around the world.
“Today we have clarity on which European destinations and ports will initially be open this summer and we have fully reflected this into a first set of new and updated itineraries for the upcoming season so that guests can book their holidays with us with confidence,” CEO of MSC Cruises, Gianni Onorato, told Travel + Leisure in a statement on Thursday. “The entire MSC Cruises team and I look forward to welcoming both returning and new guests on board one of our ships that will be at sea this summer and to provide them with a memorable, relaxing, and, above all, safe holiday.”
MSC was one of the first cruise lines to relaunch in the COVID-19-era with Mediterranean sailings over the summer. During the holidays, the line was forced to cancel some cruises due to travel restrictions before being able to resume in January.
The cruise line told T+L more than 60,000 guests have sailed with the company in the Mediterranean since August 2020.
On May 1, MSC will sail from Genoa on the MSC Seaside with stops in Sicily and Puglia planned, including a private beach experience on the Ionian Sea. Eventually, the company hopes to add a stop in Marseille.
On June 5, the company will sail the MSC Orchestra from Bari and Venice (and contend with the city’s efforts to ban cruise ships in the canal city) before heading on to the Greek islands and Croatia. A few days later, on June 12, the MSC Splendida will join with trips to Dubrovnik, Corfu, and Kotor in Montenegro. And on June 20, the MSC Magnifica will set sail, hitting up Greek and Croatian islands.
The cruise line will also launch a series of UK-only mini cruises on the MSC Virtuosa (known for its cosmic cocktail-mixing robot bartender) from Southampton on May 20, before adding 7-night journeys on June 12. These cruises are open to British residents only.
MSC will delay its cruises from Germany until at least June 15 “considering the current uncertainty regarding the timing for the reopening of local ports,” but plans to replace the MSC Virtuosa with the MSC Seaview in Kiel, Germany, starting June 19. The company hopes to sail the MSC Preziosa from Hamburg on June 21 and the MSC Musica from Warnemunde on June 20.
While several cruise lines have pledged to require passengers to be vaccinated before boarding (and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it), MSC will not require guests get the jab. Instead, the cruise line requires passengers be tested prior to boarding for several sailings, including on the MSC Seaside and the MSC Virtuosa UK sailings.