The company, which is owned by Carnival, pushed back its relaunch date from March 27th to May 1st.
Anti-coronavirus measures in Italy “do not allow us to offer passengers a travel experience that meets expectations”, especially regarding excursions, the company said in a statement on Monday.
Faced with a rise in Covid-19 infections, Italy put most of its territory under a new lockdown last Monday.
- How soon can Italy hope to restart tourism this summer?
- Italy to run ‘Covid-free’ trains on Rome-Milan route
- Italy hopes to expand ‘Covid-tested’ flights to more countries
The Costa Smeralda cruise liner will be the first to launch on May 1st, with trips lasting three to seven days in Italy, with stops in Savona, La Spezia, Civitavecchia, Naples, Messina and Cagliari.
“Health conditions permitting,” the Costa Smeralda will also resume its week-long cruises in the western Mediterranean starting June 12th, with stops in Italy (Savona, Civitavecchia and Palermo), France (Marseille) and Spain (Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca).
Another ship, the Costa Luminosa, is scheduled to depart from Trieste on May 16th for a week-long cruise to Greece and Croatia.
Neither Costa nor its biggest Italian rival, MSC Cruises, have sailed from Venice since the pandemic first pushed Italy to restrict travel last spring.
To the relief of campaigners who have long tried to stop giant liners entering the fragile Venetian lagoon, cruise companies have switched their departures to the bigger ports of Genoa and Trieste.
The cruise industry has been badly hit by international travel restrictions, as well as safety concerns after several Covid-19 outbreaks aboard ships.
Costa said it would follow a strict health protocol, including limiting the number of passengers, tests for all passengers and crew, temperature-taking on board and at disembarkation and the wearing of masks when required.
The Costa Deliziosa had resumed sailing in September after a five-month break due to the epidemic, calling only at Italian ports. But after Italy’s government decided to ban cruises during the holiday season, Costa Cruises on December 20th suspended its voyages.
Before the pandemic, Italy’s 14.5-billion-euro cruise industry — Europe’s largest — supported nearly 53,000 jobs, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.