Cabin fever: Passengers brave Covid-19 risk as cruises return to Europe

Issued on: 17/08/2020 - 18:11 The first major cruise ship to resume tours of the Mediterranean since the cor

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The first major cruise ship to resume tours of the Mediterranean since the coronavirus pandemic set sail from Genoa in Italy on Sunday in a major test for an industry that has been hard-hit by the Covid-19 crisis.


Passengers confined to their cabins, ships quarantined for weeks and deadly viral outbreaks on board what some described as a “floating prison”: The Covid-19 crisis had a devastating effect on the cruise industry after a number of ships, such as the Diamond Princess, were hit with outbreaks in the early days of the pandemic.

But on Sunday, August 16, around 2,500 passengers braved the risk of the virus to return to the seas as the MSC Grandiosa set sail from Genoa in Italy on a seven-day voyage, becoming the first major cruise ship to resume tours of the Mediterranean in the wake of the pandemic.

More than 3,000 people were infected with coronavirus and 73 people died aboard 48 cruise ships during the pandemic, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). But passengers boarding the MSC Grandiosa seemed undeterred by the risk.

"I think there is an excess of concern about Covid, a disease that in fact no longer exists or, at least, no longer causes death. It's more in our heads than in reality,” passenger Michele Grandieri told AFP.

The cruise industry has sought to reassure passengers over safety with strict hygiene and social-distancing protocols

The MSC Grandiosa is operating at just 70 percent capacity, passengers were required to take a coronavirus blood test before boarding and will undergo daily temperature checks, and the buffet has been replaced by table service.

The success of the cruise could be vital for the industry, which has suffered huge financial losses as a result of Covid-19: lost revenue from suspended cruises throughout Europe is set to total around €25.5 billion, according to the CLIA.
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