(3:30 p.m. EDT) -- MSC Cruises continues to restart its European fleet, with a slate of new itineraries and numerous ships returning to service this summer.
The line plans to have three ships sailing the Western Mediterranean, three ships deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean and one ship in the U.K. The line is also placing three ships in Germany with slated June departures, should ports in that country open.
MSC Cruises does not have a vaccination requirement for any of the sailings, relying instead on the testing, masking and social distancing protocols that it used when it restarted in Italy in August. The line also requires guests to take ship-sponsored shore excursions, to keep passengers in a "bubble."
The cruise line did not put any specific nationality restrictions or call outs on the sailings, save round-Britain cruises on brand-new ship MSC Virtuosa, which is limited to U.K. residents. Those cruises start May 20 with mini-cruises from Southampton, calling at Dorset. On June 12, weeklong sailings from Southampton, Liverpool and Greenock begin, with calls in Dorset and Belfast in Northern Ireland.
That said, Americans and other nationalities currently face bans or limitations going to many countries in Europe, including Italy, Spain, Malta, France and Germany. Vaccinated international tourists are expected to be able to visit Greece, where several of MSC's ships will board, beginning in mid-May. MSC Cruises in the U.S. are canceled through June 30, 2021.
The current sailings on MSC Cruises leaving Italy are open passengers from the Schengen countries within Europe.
In the announcement, MSC CEO Gianni Onorato hailed the number of European ports that have committed to being open, and expressed confidence that Spain and France would open to cruise lines soon so those countries could be added to itineraries.
"We are extremely proud to be in a position to offer our guests and travel agent partners for the coming summer a growing choice of cruise holidays to a range of different destinations across the Mediterranean and Europe," he said.
"And to make it even easier and safer for our guests to reach our ships from closer to their homes, all our itineraries will feature additional ports of embarkation. In the Mediterranean alone, MSC Cruises will offer its guests up to 15 ports of embarkation."
In addition to MSC Virtuosa, Onorato pointed out that MSC Seashore is also a brand-new ship for the line.
"Their presence in this next phase of the return at sea of our fleet in the coming weeks represent our belief in the continued attractiveness for consumer of cruises as a holiday option," Oronato said. "This is why we have confirmed our plans of new builds for the coming years and are looking forward to a gradual return at sea of our full fleet in the coming months into the winter season."
Here is the breakdown of which MSC Cruises ships are going where, when, this summer:
In its announcement, the line noted that there was "current uncertainty regarding the timing for the reopening of local ports" in Germany. The summer season is delayed through June 15.
The three ships will sail seven-night or longer itineraries to either the Norwegian fjords or the Baltic capitals.