(5 p.m. GMT) -- MSC Cruises has become the latest line to announce a restart date in the U.K., resuming operations on May 20, 2021. It joins Viking, P&O Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in confirming a restart date for U.K. cruises for U.K. residents.
MSC will restart cruising from Southampton on MSC Magnifica initially offering short break cruises with only sea days before embarking on longer voyages with stops in ports of call.
The line will not require passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 but will require proof of a negative PCR test taken no longer than 72 hours before boarding. MSC said it will also test passengers before boarding.
"It's time for U.K. holidaymakers to get back on board and enjoy a well-deserved break from what has been a very challenging 12 months for everyone in so many ways," Managing Director of MSC Cruises UK and Ireland Antonio Paradiso said.
"MSC Cruises is a family-owned company, and our guests are an extension of that, so we are looking forward to welcoming them and their families back on board."
He confirmed the line would welcome vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests. All guests will be tested prior to embarkation, while non-vaccinated guests will also be required to show proof of negative test done within 72 hours prior to embarkation.
"Crew in addition to the protocol-mandated test and 14-day quarantine prior to embarkation will also receive weekly testing, in addition to other ongoing health monitoring measures," he said.
This week alone, three cruise lines have announced their U.K. restart dates: Viking, onboard Viking Venus, its newest ship, will start May 22; P&O Cruises onboard Iona and Britannia from June 27; and Fred. Olsen from July 5 aboard Bolette and Borealis.
Viking and Fred. Olsen will not require passengers to have been vaccinated; P&O Cruises will.
The ship will follow all the health and safety protocols implemented onboard MSC Grandiosa, which has been safely sailing around Italy since July of last year.
Paradiso confirmed it was working on a program of protected or bubble shore excursions for passengers, as it has been running in Italy, depending on current health guidelins in the U.K.
The line confirmed it will release more details of its new U.K.-only summer deployment April 7.