MSC Cruises Approved to Sail from Japan; Cruises Begin in April

After successfully sailing with more than 30,000 cruise passengers on its big ship voyages in the Mediterranean during the past few months, MSC Cruises is now looking to Japan. MSC Cruises has confirmed that it's the first major cruise line to receive approval for a health and safety certificate from Japan’s maritime classification society.

Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises, said in a statement, “We are extremely pleased to have received this certification and are now confident that we will be able to restart our Japan operation serving the local market by April 2021." 

MSC Bellissima will home port in Yokohama and operate six- to nine-night cruises for Japanese nationals during April, May, June, October and November.

In addition to following health/safety protocols and guidelines approved by the classification society, MSC Cruises will also follow guidelines established by the Japan Oceangoing Passenger Ship Association (JOPA). Onorato emphasized that MSC Cruises has “safely and responsibly carried more than 30,000 customers in the Mediterranean and can now look forward to offer the same for our guests who live in Japan.” He also said that protocols and data gathered through the line’s operations of two ships calling in Italy, Greece and Malta over the past few months also are being reviewed by authorities in other regions where it hopes to restart cruising. 

In the line’s press statement, Onorato said: "This certification—in a country (Japan) where the industry was at the center of much attention very early in the pandemic—and the confirmation by authorities in Italy through their latest ministerial decree that cruising can continue will go a long way to demonstrate the trust that we have been able to build with the protocol’s effective measures and their rigorous application for the benefit of guests, crew and the communities we serve.”

Health and Safety Protocols

MSC Cruises' protocol for health/safety protection of passengers and crew is based on nine elements, which have also been adopted by other cruise companies, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and international airlines and airports.

  • Testing of all guests at least twice per voyage
  • Testing of all crew at least three times before embarkation and weekly onboard
  • Protected shore excursions, akin to organized "social bubbles"
  • Ventilation with HVAC fresh air
  • A contingency response that does not burden local health infrastructures
  • Isolation space on board and tracking and tracing including close contacts
  • Masks
  • Physical distancing – aided by reduced capacity of the ship
  • COVID-19 prevalence monitoring

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