Jakarta, TOPNews Indonesia –
Italy’s cruise ship operator, Costa Cruises, sailed again on Saturday (1/5) for the first time after more than four months of leaning, restarting activities from the cruise ship industry “sunk” by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Costa Smeralda cruise ship left the northwest port of Savona at 6:15 p.m. after shutting down since 20 December 2020, when the Italian government banned cruises during the holiday season due to the coronavirus crisis.
Enthusiastic Roberta Cappelletti, a 60 year old singer, came all the way from Predappio on a cruise.
“It is a great emotion, I have tears in my eyes because I can sail again – it’s like a revival for me,” he said before undergoing a coronavirus test so he could board the ship.
Enrico Bergamini, a 35-year-old bank clerk from Genoa, is also excited.
“This voyage has symbolic value for the restoration of the Italian tourism sector, I absolutely have to be here,” he said with a smile.
The ship left port with about 1,500 passengers – a quarter of its full capacity.
All passengers and crew undergo a Corona virus test and are required to wear masks throughout the trip.
The 1,300 crew members were first quarantined for 14 days prior to duty.
This voyage in the Mediterranean will last from three to seven days, depending on where it stops on the coasts of Italy – La Spezia, Civitavecchia, Naples, Messina or Cagliari.
Raffaele d’Ambrosio, head of France’s Costa Cruises division, said “the desire to go back is very strong among our customers”.
“We receive several hundred orders every day covering every month until the end of 2022,” he told AFP.
“Shipping, like tourism in general, is one of the sectors most affected by the crisis: 2021 will be a year of recovery and in early 2022 we will wait for a return to normalcy.”
The shipping industry has been devastated by the pandemic, suffering a US $ 77 billion shortfall and losing 518,000 jobs between mid-March and September last year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Costa Smeralda – three football fields long – is a miniature floating city with 11 restaurants, 19 bars, a spa, theater and several swimming pools.
The ship also has a large staircase spanning three decks above which is a glass-floored viewing terrace offering views of the ship and the sea below.
“One and a half years without going anywhere is a long time. It’s time for us to go out again to the sea. We have missed all of that,” said Jean-Pierre Faux, a 74-year-old retiree from Belgium who is on vacation with his wife Martine.
“The crew is very much looking forward to this moment. Everyone is excited to set sail. The ship is like family to us,” said the captain, Pietro Sinisi from his position on the bridge.
“I lost passengers. A ship without them is a bit sad,” he said as he began his first voyage since March last year.
“Cruise ships enjoyed great growth before the Covid-19 pandemic and I am sure they will develop again after this long and sad period of rest,” said Costa Croisieres president Mario Zanetti.
His company, part of the US-based Carnival group, returned to sea again last September, restricted routes to Italian ports, and ceased operations again in December.
Another cruise ship operator, MSC, has carried about 60,000 passengers since resuming several cruise routes in August, but stopped during the Christmas period due to travel restrictions imposed by Italy.
(AFP / ard)