Like a clearing in the distance, off. The first large cruise ship to set sail in the Mediterranean is due to leave this Sunday evening from Genoa, Italy, as the cruise industry hopes for better days after a devastating hiatus due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The departure of the “MSC Grandiosa”, of the MSC Cruises company, from the port of Genoa (north-west of Italy) at 7:30 p.m., represents a test with high stakes for the cruise sector, both on the market- key to the Mediterranean and beyond. She is scheduled to call at the ports of Civitavecchia near Rome, Naples, Palermo and Valletta, Malta, on this 7-day cruise.
More than two billion euros of loss for the sector
The cruise industry has been battered by the economic crisis resulting from the health crisis, but also because of criticism of its management of the coronavirus on board ships at the start of the pandemic. MSC Cruises competitor, Costa Cruises (a subsidiary of Carnival), has chosen to delay the partial resumption of its cruises until September.
The cruise industry in Europe represents a turnover of 14.5 billion euros a year and nearly 53,000 jobs according to the International Association of Cruise Lines (CLIA). The association estimates that the sector could lose up to 25.5 billion euros in revenue due to the interruption of cruises.
The eyes of the sector will be on the Grandiosa after the hiccups of a small Norwegian company, Hurtigruten, which was forced earlier this month to suspend its cruises again after the coronavirus contamination of dozens of passengers and members of the the crew.
Regain the confidence of travelers
Global health officials have criticized the slow response of cruise lines to the spread of the virus before ships came to a complete halt in March. On board, the buffets or sports rooms continued to operate and personal protective equipment was sorely lacking. Thus, a complaint against Costa Cruises, in particular for manslaughter, was thus filed in Paris by a group of passengers from the “Costa Magica”.
VIDEO. Passengers of the Zaandam liner transshipped: a French woman testifies
According to data from Johns Hopkins University in the United States, provided by the CLIA, 3,047 cases and 73 deaths have been recorded after contamination on board cruise ships affiliated with the association.
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MSC Cruises, for its part, affirms that its new security protocol exceeds national and industry standards. At the boarding terminal, before boarding, passengers and crew members will be tested for Covid-19 by a blood test, and their temperatures will be checked daily. The buffet will be closed: passengers will be served at the table.