(12:05 p.m. EDT) -- As MSC Cruises returns to the seas with sailings out of Italy, Cruise Critic members have gathered virtually to track the first ship, MSC Grandiosa, and cheer it on as it visits Italian and Mediterranean ports.
MSC Grandiosa left Genoa Sunday, with limited capacity and a full array of new health and safety measures designed to keep COVID-19 at bay. The 6,200-passenger ship will carry a fraction of its passengers; 1,000 people boarded in Genoa while another 1,500 guests will get on in different ports of Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Palermo.
(While not common in the U.S. or U.K., embarking and debarking in the different port cities is common practice with some European lines, such as MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises).
MSC's new rules restrict passengers to those from Schengen (European Union) countries. The makeup on the current cruise is 90 percent Italian, with French making up the majority of the remaining 10 percent, the line said.
But that hasn't stopped Cruise Critic members of all nationalities from watching and celebrating the line's return.
"Is it totally weird that I'm teary eyed? I feel like this is such a big step," wrote BermudaBound2014, as the Genoa webcam showed Grandiosa leaving port.
"I thought I was the only one," Tapi replied.
"I'm not the crying type, but for some reason her departure has me very emotional," BermudaBound2014 continued. "It feels like the first glimpse of life post Covid. I know we have more challenges ahead, but this ship sailing brings me hope that eventually we will be back to the sea."
"Teary-eyed and goosebumps," wrote shipgeeks. "Wishing everyone aboard, MSC, and the world of ships a Bon Voyage."
"Exciting. Hoping for the best," wrote Formula280SS. "We'll follow her from port to port and watch for news with fingers crossed."
The thread is being updated with photos taken from social media, as well as webcam photos. Join the conversation.