German line AIDA Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp., has moved up its restart date. The line plans to resume cruising in the Mediterranean on Oct. 17, it announced in a release provided by Roger Frizzell, Carnival Corp. spokesperson.
Wednesday’s decision comes on the heels of its sister line, Costa Cruises’ Sept. 6 restart in Italy and just weeks after the line pushed back its restart date to Nov. 1, canceling previously scheduled September and October cruises due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of waiting until November, the line has announced new seven-day itineraries that will focus on Italy with departures in October. They plan to have ships leave from from Civitavecchia, which is near Rome, and travel to Palermo and Catania in Sicily, plus Naples and La Spezia with an overnight stay in Rome.
The announcement did not specify which ship or ships the newly scheduled voyages will take place on but bookings will open on Monday. The weekly voyages will be offered until Nov. 28.
To resume cruising, the “AIDA health and safety program” is to be implemented on all vessels.
“Developed with leading medical experts, the program has been audited and confirmed by the renowned independent auditing company SGS Institut Fresenius and the classification society DNV-GL,” the line said in the release, Wednesday. “The measures include a complimentary COVID-19 test, regular temperature measurements for guests and crew, physical distancing and increased disinfection measures.”
In a report with data released Sunday, the World Health Organization listed Italy as having a slightly higher mortality rate per million over the prior seven days than the United States, though its coronavirus spread is through clusters as opposed to community transmission which continues to occur stateside. Since the onset of the outbreak, Italy has seen nearly 290,000 cases and 35,633 deaths according to Johns Hopkins data. The U.S., by comparison, has had more than 6.6 million cases and almost 196,000 deaths.
In their August announcement, they had said that scheduled cruises in the Western Mediterranean, of which Italy is a part, would be canceled for fall and winter 2020 and 2021 respectively, hence the new itineraries. The line also canceled all of its long-distance cruises for fall and winter at that time.
The cruise line also announced in July that three of its ships would resume operations in August with new health and hygiene protocols and without port calls. Later, AIDA held off on restarting operations in August because the cruise line’s flag state, Italy, hadn’t given formal approval.
As AIDA started preparing for its operational restart, it also dealt with several cases of coronavirus among arriving crew.
In the United States, cruising is on hold until November, as well, per the industry’s own voluntary suspension extension issued earlier this month. Some cruise lines, however, including Princess Cruises, which is also in the Carnival Corp. family, has pushed its suspension further into December. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own “no-sail” order, is set to expire on Sept. 30.
USA TODAY has reached out to AIDA for more details.
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