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First cruise ship to arrive in Malta

On Friday, Valletta will be welcoming the very first cruise ship since ports re-opened following COVID-19 closures back in March.

The cruise ship, called the MSC Grandiosa, swung back into action earlier this week. It left port city Genoa in Italy on a week-long western Mediterranean cruise and passes through the cities of Civitavecchia, Naples and Palermo before arriving in Malta.

MSC Cruises announced new health and safety protocols, which they are adhering to in order to protect the local communities, as well as the guests and crew.

extended promenade

Photo: mscpressarea.com

Teppanyaki restaurant

Photo: mscpressarea.com

Firstly, guests will not be allowed to go ashore and explore independently, but only through pre-booked excursions. They will also have to go through universal health screening, which includes three stages: a temperature check, filling out a health questionnaire and finally, having a COVID-19 swab test.

Also, in case you were wondering, all crew members are subject to some rather drastic measures. These include: being tested twice for COVID-19, self-isolating for 14 days and then being tested for a third and final time, prior to embarkation. They will also be tested at least twice a month, in addition to ongoing health monitoring.

“Following guidelines from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, guests travelling from countries categorised as high-risk will also be required to take a molecular RT-PCR test, to be done within 72 hours prior to joining the ship,” said MSC.

The capacity of the MSC Grandiosa has been reduced to 70%, allowing for 10 square metres of spaces per guest.

“We’re excited to be welcoming MSC Grandiosa back to Valletta. The safety and well-being of guests, personnel and the local community is our utmost priority. In the last months together with the local health and tourism authorities and the cruise lines, we have been busy working on protocols that ensure a safe, secure and seamless experience for our guests.”

Malta closed all its ports in March but re-opened to travellers just last month.

Update: an Italian family was disallowed to board the MSC Grandiosa once again, after they violated the cruise ship’s strict health and safety protocols. The family left their organised excursion and explored the area on their own, thus breaking one of the rules. The family reportedly disembarked in Naples, for an organised trip to Capri, but proceeded to leave the group. They were later refused boarding.

“By departing from the organised shore excursion, this family broke from the safe ‘social bubble’ that MSC Cruises created for them to safely enjoy their visit ashore, and therefore could not be permitted to re-board the ship,” said the company in a statement.

Click here for info on the MSC Grandiosa cruise ship and here for the itinery