MSC Cruises, which has been sailing in the Mediterranean since the summer and has hosted more than 30,000 passengers since the onset of the pandemic, has canceled cruises during the holiday season.

“(MSC) will temporarily pause the operation of MSC Grandiosa later this month and move the planned restart of MSC Magnifica to January,” the company said in a release provided by spokesperson Paige Rosenthal.

The decision comes as a result of new measures implemented by the Italian government for the period that contains Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

“The new measures include extensive restrictions on people’s mobility across the entire country, which would severely impact the ability of future guests — Italian residents as well as international travelers — to reach any of the ships’ embarkation ports in Italy,” the cruise line continued.

As a result of the decree, MSC Gradiosa will pause its current program of 7-night itineraries from Genoa on Dec. 20 and will resume Western Mediterranean cruises on Jan. 10 also departing from Genoa.

MSC Magifica, which was due to resume operations on Dec. 18 from Genoa, will instead start sailing on Jan. 15.

The schedule changes will result in six cancellations.

Costa Cruises, an Italian line that is a subsidiary of cruise giant Carnival Corp., said in a release provided to USA TODAY that the cruise line will also suspend its activities from Dec. 20 through Jan. 6, in compliance with efforts of the Italian government to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The cancellation of Christmas and New Year’s Eve cruises, among the most popular of the year, therefore represents a further economic sacrifice for Costa Cruises and the entire industry, in a period that was already very difficult,” reads the release.

Costa Cruises plans to resume sailing with its Costa Smeralda ship on Jan. 7, 2021.

Prior to the announcement, Costa Cruises had required passengers to test negative for COVID-19, with all passengers subject to an antigen test before embarking.

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Costa Smeralda, which launched in 2019, is the Italian cruise company’s biggest ship to date, with room for more than 6,000 passengers.

“The quick antigenic test will identify any suspicious cases that may be subjected to a PCR test for further check, thus determining the possibility of embarkation,” the cruise line said in an August release.

In October, Carnival Corp. spokesperson Roger Frizzel confirmed to USA TODAY that eight passengers who sailed on Costa Cruises’ Costa Diadema, which was chartered by a French company and had all French passengers, tested positive for COVID-19.

Costa Diadema was one of three Costa Cruises ships, including Costa Deliziosa and Costa Smeralda, to sail since the line resumed operations in the Mediterranean on Sept. 6.

Eight passengers test positive for COVID-19 on Costa Cruises ship

On an earnings call a week prior to the positive cases, Carnival Corp. touted that it had found a “way to go forward” with cruising in U.S. waters in 2020, thanks to Costa Cruises’ success. At the time, Costa Cruises had not seen a single case of COVID-19 on board its ships in the more than month-long period that it had been sailing.

Costa Cruises to require cruise passengers to test negative for COVID-19 before boarding

Contributing: Morgan Hines

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Costa Cruises forced to cancel cruises this Christmas, New Year’s


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