Second major cruise line resumes post-lockdown sailing in Italy

Second major cruise line resumes post-lockdown sailing in Italy
The Costa Deliziosa docked in Barcelona on its last voyage in April. Photo: AFP
Costa Cruises returned to Italian waters this week, with the Costa Deliziosa setting sail from the Adriatic port of Trieste after a coronavirus furlough of more than five months.
The ship is heading for southern Italy and will call at Bari, Brindisi, Corigliano-Rossano, Siracusa and Catania, according to a press release.
 
Carrying only Italian residents as part of its precautions against Covid-19 contagion, its weeklong outing will follow an all-Italy itinerary of Adriatic
and Mediterranean ports.
 
Following a strict protocol, passengers had their temperatures taken, were tested for Covid-19 and completed a health questionnaire before being allowed
on board.
 
The crew had been tested for the virus and spent 14 days in quarantine before the departure.
 
Social distancing rules also meant the elimination of the traditional dinner buffet, and the use of restaurants, bars and swimming pools
will be carefully scheduled to limit numbers.
 
Staff scan cruise pasengers' temperatures ahead of boarding. Photo: AFP
 
The coronavirus pandemic visited an unprecedented crisis on the cruise ship industry, which had been enjoying robust growth since 2018.
 
Not only were operators forced to ground their ships, but they faced accusations of botching the handling of the epidemic in its early stages.
 
Cruise lines are hoping that tighter protocols will allow them to control the still-lingering threat of coronavirus aboard their ships while still
offering travellers a worthwhile cruise experience.
 
Several of Costa's rivals have already returned to sea. Italian operator MSC Cruises was the first to set sail again in Italy as the MSC Grandiosa left the northwest port of Genoa on August 16th, also for a weeklong cruise.
 
 
 
Italy represents the bulk of Europe's cruise industry, reaping 14.5 billion euros of revenue per year ($17 billion) and supporting nearly 53,000 jobs, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
 
The industry faces rough waters as it tries to lure back cruisers, who tend to be older and thus more vulnerable to Covid-19.
 
Costa Cruises in particular faces a public relations nightmare, with 180 complaints lodged against the company by French passengers including for manslaughter from the families of three who died of Covid-19.
 
The Costa Deliziosa also made headlines last year when it came close to hitting a dock in Venice during a storm.
 
Venice is typically a highlight of Italian cruises, receiving more than a million passengers a year. But as sailing resumes it doesn't look set be the starting point, destination or even a stopover for any ships operated by Italy's biggest cruise companies.
 
The news that cruise ships will stay away has been hailed as a victory by anti-cruise campaigners in Venice, but it's not yet clear why operators are steering clear, or for how long.
 
Costa Cruises’ next ship due back in service is the Costa Diadema, scheduled to leave from Genoa on September 19th.
 
It too will only be calling at Italian ports and carrying guests from Italy, with stopovers in Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo, Cagliari and La Spezia.

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