MSC Cruises sails again after festive season layoff

MSC Grandiosa, Swiss-based MSC Cruises’ flagship, departed last night (January 24) from the port of Genoa in Italy to resume as planned regular 7-night cruises in the Mediterranean after a short pause of operations during the holiday period.

The ship had temporarily suspended her sailing as a result of the Italian decree that restricted movement within the country. MSC Grandiosa first welcomed guests back on board in August 2020 and the company says that feedback from the more than 30,000 guests who have boarded so far has been extremely positive, so much so that some guests have been choosing to extend their stay on board by one or more weeks. It added that its health and safety protocol helped to set the standard for the industry and reemphasised its safety record.

The protocol, which is unique in the hospitality industry and has been approved by national authorities in Italy, Greece and Malta, is being used as the basis to inform and support plans to restart cruising in other parts of the world. Prior to embarkation, all guests pass through a series of health checks, including COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew, as part of MSC Cruises comprehensive health and safety protocol, devised by the company with the support of international experts and approved by the relevant authorities in the countries visited by MSC Cruises ships currently or due to be at sea. The health and safety measures also include a dedicated response plan that can be activated in collaboration with the authorities.

MSC Cruises’ health and safety protocol has been designed to respond to the situation ashore even while it evolves, and since November last year some of the measures were enhanced, including the introduction of mid-cruise testing for guests and weekly testing for crew as well as further enhanced hygiene and sanitation measures. Everyone on board observes social distancing as well as wearing masks in public areas, and the guest technology has been leveraged to facilitate onboard contact tracing. To preserve a safe bubble on board the ship, guests only go ashore as part of protected shore excursions, so that they can be protected even while ashore by measures similar to those on board.

MSC Grandiosa, launched in November 2019, offers a wide range of experiences for guests. The company says that whilst on board, guests can relax with total peace of mind and safely enjoy a range of different activities, all adapted to meet the current health and safety measures, whilst still allowing guests to have a memorable and rich experience.

Newcastle Airport to meet new Netherlands travel requirements

Newcastle Airport has recently said that that all passengers travelling to the Netherlands from the UK will have to show two negative COVID-19 tests.

The Government guidelines permit travelling for a number of reasons including for work and education. In addition to the PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, passengers will also be required to take a Rapid Antigen test at the Airport immediately before departure.

KLM currently operates up to two flights a day from Newcastle Airport to Amsterdam and to onwards connections. The Airport launched an onsite COVID-19 testing clinic in November and has confirmed that it is one of a few airports in the UK that will be able to provide pre-departure Rapid Antigen tests for passengers.

Richard Knight, Chief Operating Officer at Newcastle Airport, said: ‘With only 36 hours’ notice we have been able to work with our testing provider NPH Group to set up a brand new clinic which will provide Rapid Antigen COVID-19 tests for passengers travelling to the Netherlands.

‘The KLM route to Amsterdam is a vital connection between the North East and the rest of the world therefore it is imperative that passengers who need to travel for essential reasons are able to.

‘Passengers travelling tomorrow or in the coming days and weeks can find more information on the Rapid Antigen testing procedure on the NPH Group website and also pre-book their appointment.’

Newcastle Airport has worked with two local medical companies to provide a convenient and efficient on-site testing clinic for passengers. Passengers flying to Amsterdam with KLM are advised to pre-book a Rapid Antigen appointment prior to their flight on the NPH Group website: https://www.nph-group.co.uk/