First cruise ship docks in Barcelona since the start of the pandemic
The ship has arrived with 1,500 tourists and will embark 500 more before continuing the route
BarcelonaThe Port of Barcelona has restarted the activity of international cruises this Saturday, with the arrival of the first ship after fourteen months of being halted due to the pandemic. An MSC ship arrived in port at six o'clock in the morning with 1,500 tourists who have embarked in Italian ports. They are mainly Italian travellers and also some Germans. In Barcelona, in addition, 500 more travellers will embark before the ship resumes its route this afternoon. Although there is not yet a concrete forecast of how this resumption of activity will continue, the Port of Barcelona foresees new stopovers from July onwards, with the companies Tui, Costa and Aida. In August the North American companies Royal Caribbean and Norwegian will also arrive.
The resumption of activity will be gradual and in no case will reach the figures of 2019, when Barcelona received 850 cruises and 3.2 million passengers, as highlighted this Saturday by the deputy general manager of commerce and marketing of the Port of Barcelona, Carla Salvadó. "We are aware of our responsibility to guarantee public health and we consider that the resumption of the activity had to be done when the figures of contagions and vaccination in the Spanish state allowed it", Salvadó said. The impact of cruises in a normal year is, in Barcelona, 9,000 jobs and 1,000 million euros of economic impact.
The opening of the sector was announced on June 7 and in recent weeks shipping companies are rescheduling their routes to include Barcelona. The first to do so is MSC, which since August 2020 already made cruises with domestic routes through Italy and Greece with some of its ships and this Saturday has stopped in the Catalan capital with Grandiosa. The ship, which has already circulated through Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples, Palermo and Malta, will also stop in Leghorn and Valencia from 30 June. "We are very confident in the interest of customers to travel again. Demand is at 2019 levels", said MSC's general manager in Spain, Fernando Pacheco.
Hygiene measures and passenger tracking
The protocol to be followed by the Port of Barcelona is established by Sanitat Exterior, which depends on the Ministry of Health. In addition to basic hygiene measures, such as the use of a mask, hydroalcoholic gel or safety distance, cruise companies are obliged to inform about their health plan and ensure its implementation. This includes specific information about the ship's sanitary facilities and on-board diagnostic capabilities, but also about the company's procedures before embarking passengers.
Covid-19 measures are also the main change affecting life on board cruise ships. Among other measures, all MSC crew are vaccinated and guests have to take at least three antigen tests: 48 hours before departure, on embarkation and on disembarkation at the port of destination. Although the company assures that the measures allow you to enjoy the experience without "limitations", day trips, for example, are in coexistence bubble groups and you can not get off the ship freely, outside the day trip circuit. In addition, to prevent the spread of the virus, all passengers wear a bracelet that locates them and facilitates their tracking.
To guarantee safety distances, the capacity is limited to 70%, despite the fact that in this first MSC cruise with a stop in Barcelona the occupancy is around 50%. The company's goal is that in August about 1,000 passengers embark in Barcelona per week, compared to the 500 who have done so this Saturday.