After being absent from the continent for almost two years, cruises have resumed from South America. MSC Preziosa set sail from the Brazilian port of Santos before the weekend for a 3-night voyage.
MSC Cruises, which traditionally has had a strong presence in the region, plans to have multiple ships in operation around the continent and Brazil in particular in the upcoming week. This includes one of the most modern ships in the world, MSC Seaside.
Cruising in South America Is Back!
Although cruises in Europe, Asia, and North America have been sailing successfully for several months now, cruises in South America remained on hold until this weekend, caused by the industry’s voluntary shutdown because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
MSC Preziosa will offer guests several mini-cruises in Brazilian waters from both Santos and Rio de Janeiro. Next month, she will be joined by MSC Seaside and MSC Splendida, which also start operations from Santos.
MSC Preziosa is already the twelfth MSC ship to start operations with passengers, with the majority of ships sailing in Europe and the United States. The start of operations is significantly earlier than the cruise line had announced earlier; the cruise line announced last month it would be resuming in December.
The fact the cruise line is already operating has to do with the health protocols announced last week by Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency for cruise ships, providing a clear pathway for ships to operate in.
MSC’s ships in Brazil will need to operate under strict measures. Each vessel will need to perform a daily test of 10% of passengers on board and 10% of the crew at random. This is in addition to daily passenger health screening.
Every week all crew members will need to be tested for COVID-19; masks are mandatory for all guests and crew members on board, in port facilities, and in related facilities.
Although social distancing is not necessary for guests within the same travel groups, social distancing is necessary between outsiders. However, that will likely not be a significant problem, as the ships are only allowed to sail with a maximum capacity of 75%.
Five Cruise Ships Start Operations in Brazil This Year
For the 2021/22 cruise season, MSC and Costa Cruises plan to deploy at least five cruise ships sailing along the Brazilian coast; this includes MSC Preziosa, MSC Seaside, and MSC Splendida from MSC Cruises, and Costa Smeralda and Costa Fascinosa.
MSC Seaside will homeport in Santos, close to Sao Paolo, sailing to Ilha Grande, Salvador de Bahia, Maceio, and Buzios, before sailing back to Santos. Guests will also have the chance to board the vessel in Salvador and follow the same itinerary from there. The first cruise will be departing on December 4, 2021.
MSC Splendida will be operating in Brazil from mid-December, offering guests 7-night cruises along the Brazilian coast from Sao Paolo, with stops in Ilhabela, Porto Belo, Balneário Camboriú, and Cabo Frio.