With an All-Italian itinerary, Costa Cruises has launched its third ship to operate from Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The LNG-powered flag-ship Costa Smeralda is the third within Costa to start operations, which has already seen successful cruises with both The Costa Diadema and the Costa Deliziosa.
The ship will sail a route between Civitavecchia, Savona, La Spezia, Cagliari, Napoli, and Messina before returning to Civitavecchia.
Staying in one country gives Costa more flexibility when it comes to shore excursions, and the company does not need to navigate between the different legislations each state is developing.
The return of Costa Smeralda marks the largest ship so far to start operations. As such, she will be a benchmark for Carnival Corporation on how to operate very large cruise ships during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Costa Smeralda is the fifth largest vessel in the World and the largest in the Carnival fleet. The ship was delivered in December 2019 and can carry up to 6,500 passengers at full capacity. As the second ship to come into existence in the Excellence class, the Smeralda heralds a new era for Carnival Corporation.
With LNG powering the Costa Smeralda, AIDAnova, P&O Iona, and Carnival’s Mardi Grass, the company is on a clear track to have more environmentally friendly ships sailing around the World. With emissions at 25% of vessels burning HFO, the move to LNG comes when cruise operators are under mounting pressure to address the sustainability, and environmental impact ships have.
With 11 restaurants, bars, a waterpark, kids club, nightclub, and silent disco all operating as usual, the Costa Smeralda is a worthwhile escape from the daily drag of COVID-19 reporting.
Will I Be Safe?
Costa cruise was the first cruise operator to obtain the biological risk prevention system certification, developed by RINA (Registro Italiano Navale). This documents all the necessary steps a cruise operator needs to be taking to offer safe cruising onboard its ships.
Costa Cruises has been at the forefront of setting up the various protocols. Since it started sailing last month, the company has completed multiple successful voyages in Italian waters.
The protocols guests will need to follow onboard, or how Costa Cruises calls it, the ten things you need to do for a totally safe cruise:
- Online Check-in, staggered boarding times, health checks, and a COVID swab test at the terminal.
- Everything smart, all menus, ships’ info, and bills are all digitally available on your smartphone through QR codes and specially designed apps. So no more sharing pens and menu’s with other.
- Reduced passenger numbers, limited numbers in public areas to control social distancing.
- when in public areas while onboard, protective masks must be worn
- All meals are served, so no more buffets
- Leaving the ship can, for now, only be done with a planned excursion.
Although the regulations seem strict, guest feedback on the line’s social media pages has so far been overwhelmingly positive.
Costa’s Efforts Benchmark for the U.S.
To bring a successful return to cruising in the U.S., Neil Palomba, the Costa Cruises executive responsible for Costa Cruises’ resumption in Italy, has moved to Carnival Cruise Line.
Mr. Palomba will be overseeing all aspects of the lines hotel operations while specifically focusing on the introduction of new protocols and operating procedures for the U.S. brand. Carnival has plans to sail next month, depending on the upcoming decision by the CDC.
So while European Cruises are increasingly popular, with voyages selling out quickly, they are also successful in avoiding any outbreaks of COVID-19 onboard.
The sailing of Costa Smeralda and the other Costa ships in Italy will indeed be seen as a positive point when the CDC will make its decision to lift the No Sail Order in the U.S.
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