First cruise ship following COVID-19 closure to arrive in Malta on Friday

MSC Grandiosa’s Western Mediterranean cruise passes through the Italian cities of Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo before arriving to Malta

The MSC Grandiosa arrives at Valletta's cruise port on Friday
The MSC Grandiosa arrives at Valletta's cruise port on Friday

Valletta will be welcoming the first cruise ship on Friday since ports reopened following COVID-19 closures in March.

The MSC Grandiosa restarted its operations earlier in the week, and left Genoa in Italy on a seven-night Western Mediterranean Cruise. 

The cruise, which departs from Genoa, passes through the Italian cities of Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo before arriving to Malta. 

MSC Cruises said that new health and safety protocols to protect the local communities as well as the guests and the crew have been adopted. 

Guests will not be allowed to go ashore independently, but only through booked excursions.

All guests will have to go through universal health screening, which includes three stages. 

The first is a temperature check, before a health questionnaire is filled out. Guests will also have to carry out a COVID-19 swab test.

Admittance will be based on the screening results. 

“Following guidelines from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, guests travelling from countries categorised as high risk will also be required to take a molecular RT-PCR test, to be done within 72 hours prior to joining the ship,” MSC said. 

All crew members will be tested two times for COVID-19 and go through a 14-day isolation period and a third and final molecular RT-PCR test prior to embarkation. 

Crew will also be regularly tested during their contract, at least twice a month in addition to ongoing health monitoring.

The ship’s capacity has also been lowered to 70%, allowing for 10 square metres of space per passenger. 

Valletta Cruise Port CEO Stephen Xuereb welcomed the return of MSC Grandiosa. “We are excited to be welcoming MSC Grandiosa back to Valletta. The safety and well-being of guests, personnel and the local community is our utmost priority. In the last months together with the local health and tourism authorities and the cruise lines, we have been busy working on protocols that ensure a safe, secure and seamless experience for our guests.”

Cruise ship companies stopped operating globally when countries closed their ports to travellers in a bid to control the spread of the pandemic.

Malta closed its ports and airport in March but re-opened to travellers last month as the virus spread was contained. A recent surge in coronavirus cases in Malta has led to new restrictions being imposed on bars, nightclubs and mass events. 

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