The first major cruise ship resumed operations today after the worldwide halt of cruising due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The MSC Grandiosa departed at 7:30 GMT from the Italian city of Genoa with 2500 passengers on board.
The MSC Grandiosa will stop at three Italian ports and the Maltese capital of Valletta on the 7 day cruise.
Earlier in the day, passengers checking in were required to take a coronavirus blood test inside the terminal AFP reported. They were not concerned about the virus and some went as far as saying cruises were now safer than other vacation options.
“I couldn’t miss the first cruise after COVID,” cruise blogger Rosalba Scarrone, 64, told AFP.
“I’ve taken 87 cruises, can you imagine how much I’ve suffered not setting off from February until now?”
The first cruise comes as virus cases continue to rise around Italy, with more than 600 reported by authorities yesterday.
All eyes will be on the MSC Grandiosa after smaller cruise lines resumed operations only to suspend them again after positive cases of Covid-19 were confirmed onboard.
The Grandiosa is part of the fleet of privately owned MSC Cruises based in Geneva. The ship will travel to the ports of Civitavecchia near Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valletta, Malta during its seven-day voyage.
MSC authorities said approximately 2,500 passengers were on board its debut cruise, limited to about 70 percent of normal capacity.
Last week, Italy’s government gave cruise operators the go ahead to begin operations again as of August 15.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said the suspension of European cruises could amount to 25.5 billion euros.
3,047 people were infected on cruise ships with the coronavirus before the worldwide halt of cruising.
73 people died aboard 48 cruise ships according to Johns Hopkins University data provided by CLIA.