(12:40 p.m. EDT) -- AIDA will be the second of Carnival Corporation's cruise brands to restart sailings in the Mediterranean when AIDAblu sets sail October 17 from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome.
The German-based line will begin operations in Italy, where it initially will sail weeklong voyages that visit Palermo, Catania, Naples and La Spezia. Sailings aboard the 2,050-passenger ship are scheduled to continue through November 28.
AIDA is the second Carnival Corporation brand to restart in the Mediterranean following Italy-based Costa Cruises, which resumed a limited schedule of sailings in early September.
"For all our brands, there is no higher responsibility and no higher priority than compliance, protecting the environment, and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, our crew and the communities we visit," said Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer for Carnival Corporation. "We are excited to have AIDA joining Costa Cruises in resuming sailing operations with a gradual expansion of service over time. As we offer travelers a phased return to cruise vacations, we will continue sharing important learnings and best practices among our world-leading cruise line brands and across the industry to help ensure the resumption of cruise operations is done with the best interests of public health at the forefront."
As with Costa, the resumption of sailings aboard AIDA Cruises is accomplished with the health and safety protocols developed by local government and health authorities in Italy; shoreside disease mitigation protocols; reduced onboard passenger capacity; and limited initial sailings.
Onboard health and safety protocols being rolled out for AIDA during the COVID-19 era should come as no surprise. These include mandatory PCR tests for passengers and crew; adherence to physical distancing guidelines; the wearing of masks while onboard; increased sanitization measures; and the ability to go ashore only in AIDA-sponsored and approved shore excursions. Independent exploration in port will not be allowed at this time.
A news release issued by AIDA notes that all health and safety protocols for the vessels have been reviewed and approved by the Italian government. Though catering primarily to a German-speaking clientele, AIDA's vessels are flagged in Italy.
AIDAblu joins its Costa fleetmates in restarting cruises in the Mediterranean. So far, Costa has deployed three ships, including flagship Costa Smeralda, on weeklong voyages to the Italian ports of Savona, La Spezia, Cagliari, Naples, Messina, and Civitavecchia for Rome.
AIDA isn't the only line looking at restarting. Upscale brand SeaDream intends to restart its small-ship luxury cruises in the Caribbean in November from Barbados. Cruise Critic will have a member of its editorial staff onboard one of the first SeaDream sailings in the Caribbean next month.