Carnival's Costa Cruises to resume sailing from Italy in September amid COVID-19 pandemic
The Italian government – unlike the U.S. – has given permission for cruising to start up again during the coronavirus pandemic. But cruise lines are treading cautiously, given that positive cases are rising again in some countries and some ships have even experienced new outbreaks since returning to sea.
Costa Cruises announced Tuesday that it was planning to resume cruises from Italian ports in early September.
It won't be a sudden return to normal: The first ship to set sail will be the Costa Deliziosa on Sept. 6, which will sail weekly from Trieste to Greece. The Costa Diadema will begin seven-day cruises in the western Mediterranean from Genoa on Sept. 19. Details about both ships' itineraries are to be released soon.
Both ships will be for Italian guests only and exclusively call at Italian ports.
Costa, which is a Carnival Corporation-owned brand, is working with authorities and destinations to make sure regulations and protocols are followed. The cruise line developed a "Costa Safety Protocol" for its ships, which features new operating procedures due to COVID-19. Independent scientific experts consulted with the line, and the protocol is in line with Italian government and European Union health guidelines.
Face masks, COVID-19 screening: EU issues guidelines for return to cruising amid pandemic
The rest of the Italian cruise line's ships won't sail before Sept. 30, however. The company is extending the pause of is cruise season until that date, save for the aforementioned ship departures.
Carnival Corp., including its Costa line, experienced several outbreaks early on in the pandemic – most notably on the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess.
Italy was the epicenter of the pandemic in early spring, though that title has since shifted to the U.S., which surpassed 5 million cases Sunday. Italy had just over 250,000 cases as of Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins data. According to the World Health Organization, the country has reported fewer than 500 new cases in the past day, in contrast to the U.S.' nearly 54,000.
US hits 5 million cases of COVID-19: A look at the milestones and setbacks
What's going on with other cruise lines around the world?
Costa isn't the only Carnival-owned line resuming cruising soon: Switzerland-based MSC Cruises announced its MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will cruise again this month, on Aug. 16 and 29, respectively.
This return to cruising, however, comes amid a rocky restart to the industry in recent weeks. There have been positive COVID-19 cases on multiple ships, including more than 50 cases from Hurtigruten's MS Roald Amundsen.
Elsewhere: 10 crew members on AIDA Cruises' AIDAblu and AIDAmar (also part of the Carnival family) learned they tested positive for COVID-19 after boarding in Rostock, Germany, on July 22.
AIDA to relaunch more ships despite new COVID-19 cases: Ten AIDA cruise crew members test positive for COVID-19; ships will still sail in August
The infected crew members were taken off the two ships after receiving positive results, and the remaining crew members were secluded on board waiting for another round of test results, Roger Frizzell, a spokesperson for Carnival Corp., parent to AIDA Cruises, told USA TODAY.
AIDA's crew members in Germany have been tested again multiple times, with all results negative for COVID-19.
AIDA is set to resume cruising from German ports in early September. Beginning Sept. 6, the first trips from Kiel will begin. The AIDAperla sailings to the Norwegian fjords, from Hamburg, will begin Sept. 12, 19 and 26.
The rest of AIDA's ships won't resume sailing before Sept. 30. Ships were set to sail this month, but those plans were canceled due to a lack of approval from flag state Italy.
Another Carnival subsidiary, Seabourn, is taking the opposite approach: it just extended cancellations for some of its ships. Carnival subsidiaries Holland America and P&O Cruises, too, have extended their pauses and made cancellations.
And Royal Caribbean is considering coronavirus testing as part of its plan to resume sailing, a company executive said during a quarterly earnings presentation Monday.
Royal Caribbean: COVID-19 testing 'very likely' when cruise line resumes sailing
The company's operations have been suspended since March with hopes to resume sailing in November, provided the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lifts its no-sail order, which is set to expire at the end of September. The U.S. cruise industry has voluntarily extended its sailing suspension through Oct. 31. Though company executives gave no firm date for the resumption of cruises, one said testing would be key.
The head of Norwegian Cruise Line's parent company predicted that its ships wouldn't be back in force until next spring.
Contributing: Morgan Hines, Curtis Tate, USA TODAY