Costa Cruises to require cruise passengers to test negative for COVID-19 ahead of boarding
Costa Cruises, the Italian line that is a subsidiary of cruise giant Carnival Corp., will require all passengers to have a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding.
Before embarking, all passengers will be subject to an antigen test starting with its first Sept. 6 departure and on all ships resuming operations going forward.
“The quick antigenic test will identify any suspicious cases that may be subjected to a PCR test for further check, thus determining the possibility of embarkation,” the cruise line said in a release Tuesday.
MSC Cruises has also implemented a requirement that all passengers have a negative antigen test before boarding.
But the rapid test is a subject of concern amid inaccurate results.
Antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. Testing materials are cheaper and more plentiful. And the tests are fast, delivering results in 15 minutes. But they’re considered less sensitive than PCR tests, which Costa is instituting as a secondary step if the antigen test suggests infection.
PCR tests detect the virus’s genetic material. Considered more sensitive because they find even low levels of the virus, they have been the diagnostic test for public health and clinical labs since the beginning of the pandemic.
The cruise line announced this month that it would resume operations on two vessels, the Costa Deliziosa and the Costa Diadema, next month, with the first voyage departing on Sept. 6. All voyages are open only to Italian cruisers, according to a release provided by Carnival Corp. Spokesperson Roger Frizzell.
Between Sept. 6 and Sept. 27, the Costa Deliziosa is scheduled to embark on weekly cruises, departing Sundays from Trieste, according to an Aug. 20 release provided by Frizzell.
The Deliziosa will make five stops in the southern part of the country, including Siracusa and Catania in Sicily, Corigliano-Rossano in Calabria and Bari and Brindisi in Puglia.
Meanwhile, the Diadema will depart on a single itinerary from Genoa on Sept. 19 to make port calls in the western Mediterranean. Stops include Rome, Naples, Cagliari, Palmero and La Spezia.
All port calls will include “protected shore excursions,” according to the release.
The line’s newly implemented health and safety protocol, which was developed with public health experts, according to the company, is in accordance with the Italian government and the EU Healthy Gateways program, which was released in July. Their new health strategy is subject to updates.
As Costa approaches its first departure date Sept. 6, the cruise line is also the first to earn Biosafety Trust Certification from RINA, an over 150-year-old testing, inspection, certification and ship classification company, according to the Tuesday release.
The certification examined all elements of cruising both onboard and shoreside, from embarkation procedures to hospitality, to fitness centers and shore excursions. It also looked at system compliance, and procedures to prevent and control infectious disease onboard.
Italy has seen 260,000 coronavirus cases, with more than 35,000 deaths total, per Johns Hopkins data. And according to the Weather Channel’s coronavirus map, which provides data from Watson, their artificial intelligence tracking tool that compiles data from third party sources including the World Health Organization, there was a 2% uptick in cases Monday, with more than 1,200 new cases reported. By contrast, the United States has had more than 5.7 million cases and nearly 180,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins, with nearly 39,000 new cases reported Sunday, per the CDC.
The rest of the Italian cruise line’s ships won’t sail before Sept. 30.
Carnival Corp., including its Costa line, saw several outbreaks early in the pandemic – notably on the Diamond Princess, which saw an outbreak that infected 700 people, and on the Grand Princess.
Contributing: Ken Alltucker, David Oliver