Carnival Corp's German-based brand, Aida Cruises, relaunched cruise operations on 17 October from Italy, becoming the second Carnival brand to resume sailing since the global cruise shutdown in March.
Its Italy-based sister brand, Costa Cruises, resumed service in early September.
AIDA launched one ship, the AidaBlu, on a seven-day cruise from Civitavecchia visiting Palermo and Catania in Sicily as well as Naples and La Spezia. Cruises are scheduled weekly through 28 November.
Like Costa, Aida is sailing with limited capacity and enhanced health protocols, including testing every passenger and crew member and restricting passengers from leaving the ship unless they are on shore excursions organised by the cruise line.
Meanwhile, the MSC Magnifica this week became MSC Cruises' second ship to return to service since the global cruise shutdown, initiating a series of 10-day eastern and western Mediterranean cruises from Genoa, Italy.
The MSC Grandiosa became the world's first major cruise ship to return to service when it resumed cruising in August on itineraries from Italy. The ship has now completed nine, seven-day voyages, with measures including protected shore excursions and Covid-19 testing all passengers and crew before boarding.
The Magnifica will visit Livorno (Florence and Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Messina, Italy; Piraeus (Athens) and Katakolon (Olympia), Greece; and Valletta, Malta. The ship is scheduled to operate six cruises before the end of the year, including an eight-day Christmas cruise departing 18 December.
Other health and safety protocols on both ships include elevated sanitation and cleaning measures, managed social distancing, the wearing of face masks in public areas and technology to aid tracking and tracing. Both ships are operating at 70% capacity to better enable social distancing.
The stories were first published in Travel Weekly.