European Cruise Lines Adjust Plans for Resumption of Cruising
Update: After this story was written, Germany's AIDA announced on October 29 that it would suspend all cruises for one month starting October 31, "as a result of Germany implementing far-reaching measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic."
The European cruise lines that have been able to restart operations are now being forced to adjust their plans due to the resurgence of COVID-19 in parts of Europe. While the cruise lines’ protocols have so far worked to control the virus, the lines are facing increasing travel restrictions for their customers as several countries across Europe have introduced new restrictions.
Italy’s Costa Cruises, the first Carnival Corporation brand to resume operations, has been forced to scale back its efforts to expand its resumption of service. Plans to possibly start Caribbean cruises this winter were canceled as well as the previously announced world cruise. Costa also postponed 14-day cruises planned for the Mediterranean aboard the Costa Diadema until April 2021 and the launch of its newest ship, the Costa Firenze on seven-day cruises to Italy, France, and Spain until February 28, 2021. Costa, however, said it still plans to take delivery in December on this ship, which is currently under construction at Fincantieri.
Costa currently has two cruise ships in operation, the Costa Deliziosa and the Costa Smeralda, and the line said it will extend those operations into 2021. For both of these ships, Costa however, announced changes to the planned itineraries. The Costa Smeralda will continue her current trips only to Italian ports, instead of adding ports in France and Spain to the itinerary. Similarly, the Costa Deliziosa continues her cruises from Trieste, Italy to Katakolon, Piraeus, and Heraklion in Greece and Bari, Italy, instead of visiting Montenegro and Croatia as originally planned.
Costa will continue to monitor the current situation to determine future cruise plans, while its sister brand AIDA Cruises also announced that it would be making changes for its first cruise ship to resume service, the AIDABlu. Having just resumed sailing in mid-October, AIDA is replacing port calls in Naples and La Spezia, Italy with stops at Messina and Syracuse on Sicily. The ship will continue to sail from Civitavecchia, Italy. AIDA has not announced plans for additional itineraries but last night highlighted the departure of its idle cruise ship the AIDAPerla which sailed for the Canary Islands.
So far, none of the cruise lines have been forced to suspend operations. Germany’s TUI Cruises is operating short sea cruises from Germany to the North Sea. Since these cruises began in July, the company has not been able to add ports to the itineraries. Also, TUI operated air-sea cruises to Greece and has announced plans for cruises around the Canary Islands due to start in November.
Similarly, Germany’s Hapag Cruises has also been using its ships for short cruises from Germany, which have included stops in Gothenburg, Sweden. Hapag was also approved to start cruising in the Canary Islands.
MSC Cruises also continues to operate its cruises from Italy and on October 19 the line’s second cruise ship the MSC Magnifica returned to service. This ship is offering 10-day cruises from Genoa combining ports in Italy and Greece.
Each of the cruise lines is confident with the current protocols that they have in place that they can continue to successfully operate.