WORKING GRANDIO A PRESIDENT IN ITALY – This Easter season Italy may be under severe coronavirus blockade with limited travel to regions and new quarantines. But guests aboard the MSC Grandiosa, a few miles from the beach, shine on a CD of Latin music and drink cocktails by the pool.
In one of the anomalies of closed locks closing hotels and resorts around the world, the Grandiosa circulates in the Mediterranean Sea overnight in seven night voyages, the sole flagship of the global maritime industry.
After navigating ships were an early source of a widespread coronavirus outbreak, Grandiosa sought to navigate the epidemic with strict anti-virus protocols approved by the Italian authorities seeking to create a “health bubble” on the ship.
Passengers և crews are tested before and during navigation. Mask mandates, temperature controls, contact tracking և Frequent cleaning of the vessel are designed to prevent outbreaks. Passengers outside Italy must arrive for negative COVID-19 tests performed within 48 hours of departure; only Romanians in European Schengen countries, such as Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria, are eligible to book COVID-19 insurance policies.
On Wednesday, Grandiosa left the Italian port of Civitavecchia to sail for its week-long Easter holiday, 2,000 of its 6,000-capacity և stops in Naples, Valletta, Malta, before returning to its home port of Genoa.
The passengers welcomed the natural phenomenon of eating in a restaurant or sitting in a swimming pool without a mask, even if the virus was still a concern.
“After a year of restrictive measures, we thought we could take a week off to rest,” said Stephanie Batistoni, a 39-year-old single-parent teacher who spent the night navigating the two sons of Bolzano in northern Italy.
The epidemic has plunged the number of cruise ship passengers worldwide from a record 30 million in 2019 to more than 350,000 in July 2020, according to Cruise Lines International, the world’s largest travel industry association, which accounts for 95% of ocean voyage capacity. There are currently less than 20 ships in the world, which is a small part of the CLIA fleet of 270 ships.
The United States may be one of the last markets for cruise ships to reopen, possibly not until Alas, but until 2022 in Alaska. The two Royal Caribbean cruise lines, which usually leave Miami, instead decided to start sailing off the Caribbean coast in June, where governments want to rebuild their tourism-based economies despite concerns from health and environmental activists.
Additional cabins are available on the MSC to isolate suspected viral cases. Because of hand contact traces, if the guide is positive, medical staff can identify who they are interacting with. Once the situation is clarified, anyone who is positive moves to shore.
According to an independent consulting firm, Bermello Ajamii & Partners, the industry began its initial reboot of ships last summer, when COVID-19 cases were confirmed in only 23 cases, with a passenger infection rate of 0.006%.
But critics of the navigation industry say the risk is not worth it, adding that travel companies should have had an epidemic to address the industry’s long-standing environmental and labor problems.
“All the big cruise ships burn a huge amount of the dirtiest, cheapest fuel,” said Earth my Ace from the environmental group Stand Earth. “Cruise ship companies could use the COVID shutdown to address their impact on public health and the environment. “Instead, they wiped out some of their oldest ships and raised cash to survive.”
On board, however, passengers enjoy the opportunity to enjoy closed activities in Italy այում for most of Europe for a year. Theater, restaurant dining, duty free shopping դ live music in bars.
The rest of Italy will return to full blockade over the weekend, shops will be closed and restaurants and bars will be open to minimize holiday outbreaks. In addition, the Italian government has imposed a five-day quarantine on people from other EU countries to curb Easter travel.
“Let’s say that after being locked up for so long, this was a choice for our mental health,” said Federico Marzocci, who joined the voyage with his wife, his 10-year-old son Mateo.
The European tourism industry is trying to expand its reopening this spring.
Cruise off the Spanish Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, including AIDA, a company that serves German tourists. Costa Cruises, one of Europe’s largest travel companies with MSC, will resume voyages on May 1 with only seven overnight voyages in Italy. Costa plans to start sailing in the western Mediterranean in mid-June.
The UK launches cruise ships in May, launched by MSC MS Viking in the British Isles, among a number of companies offering offshore cruises to capture one of the major cruise markets. The cruise industry hopes that Greece will open in mid-May, but the country has not yet announced when it will reopen tourism.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided a “framework” for resuming navigation in the United States, but the industry says the health agency did not provide the details that companies need to operate their vessels. When the CDC meets the technical requirements, industry officials say it takes about 90 days to prepare the ship for navigation.
Cruise companies are complaining that the CDC system became obsolete last fall and should be scrapped. They say it was released before the vaccines became available, before the resumption of voyages in Europe, which they said had safely transported thousands of passengers under the new COVID-19 protocols. And they complain that navigation is the only part of the US economy that remains closed due to the widespread epidemic.
The Cruise Lines International Business Group lobbies to launch shipping in the United States in early July, noting that loyal customers will simply sail elsewhere.
“Cruisers love to sail, they will go where the ships sail,” said Laziza Lambert, a spokeswoman for the trade group.
Still, environmentalists pushing back for an earlier resumption say the epidemic deadline is a window into industry.
“Large cruise ships pollute our air and water and contribute to climate change. They are toxic to port communities. And they spread it WITH. “They are exploiting workers and endangering passengers,” Ace said. “Why should large cruise ships be allowed to return before they address those concerns?”
AP reporters Colin Barry in Soave, Italy, Nicole Winfield in Rome և David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.
Follow the AP Epidemic Coverage: