European line MSC Cruises has unveiled that its flagship vessels, MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will resume operations in the Mediterranean.

The two vessels, which are set to depart on 16 August and 29 August respectively, will offer a seven-night cruise visiting five different destinations.

MSC joins other lines like German TUI and Norwegian Hurtigurten, which started operations last month. These lines are the first to resume sailings after the cruise industry was crippled by the spread of COVID-19, with many halting operations from March.

Luxury line Ponant has also resumed sailings to the Arctic. The next voyage will sail through the Northeast Passage to Russia, and is departing at the end of the month.

The two MSC ships will be the first to implement a new health and safety protocol which has been approved by authorities from the countries that the ships will call at. This includes a number of destinations along the East and West Mediterranean.

“During the pause in our operations we focused on developing a comprehensive operating protocol that builds upon already stringent health and safety measures that have long been in place on board our ships,” said the line’s executive chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago.

“We have worked closely with the relevant EU-level, national health and other authorities from the countries that MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica will call along their Mediterranean itineraries to develop a comprehensive set of procedures designed to protect the health and safety of all passengers on board our ships as well as ashore to ensure that local communities feel comfortable welcoming our guests.”

MSC Grandiosa will offer seven-night cruises in Western Mediterranean calling at the Italian ports of Genoa, Civitavecchia (Rome), Naples, Palermo and Valetta. MSC Magnifica will offer seven-night cruises in Eastern Mediterranean departing from the Italian ports of Bari and Trieste, calling at the Greek ports of Corfu, Katakolon and Piraeus (Athens).

For this initial phase of the restart of operations, the two MSC Cruises ships operating in the Mediterranean for the current European summer season will initially only welcome guests who are residents in Schengen countries which include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.