Last week we reported that four cruise lines had COVID-19 outbreaks on board. What we now know is that at least two of the cruise lines did not have COVID-19 outbreaks on board. Seadream and UnCruise both had passengers that tested positive for COVID-19, but after being retested, the tests for both passengers came back negative. Experts suspect that in these types of cases, people may test positive initially but in follow-up tests, they may not have enough virus in their respiratory secretions to trigger a positive test.
This is, of course, great news for the cruise industry as it seems that only two cruise lines have had COVID-19 outbreaks since sailings have resumed.
Speaking of resuming sailings, two larger cruise lines, Costa Cruises & MSC Cruises, have plans to start sailing again in the Mediterranean.
On August 16, MSC Grandiosa became the first ship from the MSC Cruises’ fleet to resume sailing – and the first cruise ship to resume sailing in the Mediterranean. MSC has recently highlighted its new health and safety protocols, which include a temperature check, medical review of a health questionnaire and an antigen COVID-19 swab test for every guest. Guests are also given time slots to ensure that there is space for social distancing in the cruise terminal. MSC’s ships will operate at 70 percent capacity. So far, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 on board.
Costa will resume sailings on September 6, with four sailings planned on Costa Deliziosa, and one sailing planned for September 19 on Costa Diadema. The sailings will only call on Italian ports, and only be open to Italian guests.
MSC marks the first large-ship cruise line to return to the seas. This, combined with the good news about COVID-19 not spreading on Seadream and UnCruise, gives a lot of hope for the future of cruising. Moreover, if a company like MSC, whose average passenger capacities are upward of 4,000 guests, can complete a sailing without a virus outbreak it will give a lot of hope to the rest of the industry. It will also, hopefully, convince the public that cruise ships are not the virus breeding cesspools that they were made out to be at the beginning of the pandemic.
There is also hope that these voyages will lead the way for other cruise companies to resume operations. Though it seems far fetched that Americans will be ready, or able, to cruise any time in the next few months, there is hope that more cruise companies can resume sailing other parts of the globe until the United States starts seeing a more significant decrease in cases. If hard-hit Italy was able to do it, we should be able to, too. Regardless of whether or not Americans will be able to sail for the remainder of 2020, the news from MSC and Costa give us hope that we will return to the oceans soon.
This article was originally published at River Cruise Advisor.