Costa Cruises are now planning a restart of operations in Spain on July 3, having previously announced that this would be June 14. The cruise operator is scheduling a ship to depart from Barcelona on this later date, but there has yet to be official confirmation from the Spanish government that cruise tourism can resume. There has been a ban since March last year, with the exception of the Canaries, where special authorisation was given in late October.
Luigi Stefanelli, the Costa Cruises director for Spain and Portugal, is warning of a loss of market share for Spain, given that other countries, e.g. Greece and Israel, now allow cruise ships. He believes that there is "unfair treatment", as it is possible to enter Spain by plane but not on a cruise ship. Spain, he adds, is "crucial" for cruise itineraries.
The president of the Port of Barcelona, Mercè Conesa, recently announced that there are discussions with cruise operators and government authorities regarding permission for cruise ships in time for Sant Joan (June 24). Stefanelli feels that this is "a sign of confidence". For now, the plan is for the Costa Smeralda to sail on July 3 from Barcelona to Palma and then to Palermo, Civitavecchia, Savona and Marseille.
Costa Cruises have developed health protocols, such as the mandatory wearing of masks, reduced capacities and social distancing for shows and restaurants, "bubble" excursions, free antigen tests for all passengers and crew, and replacing paper documents with digital ones.