MSC Cruises became the first international cruise shipping company operating in Japan to receive a health and safety certification from Japan's maritime classification society (ClassNK) - a major step towards MSC’s operational restart in Japan scheduled for April 2021.
The certification of the company's industry-leading health and safety protocol for Biosafety Management System (COVID-19) paves the way for MSC Cruises to open sales in December 2020 to local residents for sailings homeporting in Japan and start to work with Japanese ports to prepare for the forthcoming cruise season.
Health and safety operating protocols of Japan's port authorities and MSC Cruises will follow guidelines established by the Japan Oceangoing Passenger Ship Association (JOPA).
MSC Bellissima, which was introduced in 2019, will be homeported in Yokohama-Tokyo to sail 6- to 9-night voyages in April, May, and June 2021. Bellissima is also scheduled to operate in Japan during October-November 2021.
In October, European classification society RINA awarded MSC Cruises with its biosafe ship additional class notation for the flagship MSC Grandiosa, currently deployed in the Mediterranean.
RINA had previously verified that MSC Cruises' health and safety protocol met and went beyond the high standards of EMSA (European Maritime Safety Agency) and ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) Joint Guidance, which incorporates additional health standards including the ones from the EU Healthy Gateways Joint Action.
The verification that the new protocol was aligned with the guidance of the key European authorities was a crucial part of the process to enable the restart of MSC’s Mediterranean operations in August.