Return to the sea: The MSC Grandiosa is one of the first cruise ships to be returning to the sea since the industry's global shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images
(CNN) — Boarding in the Italian port of Genoa for a seven-day Mediterranean cruise on August 16, travel agent Valeria Belardi prepared herself for a voyage like no other.
Belardi was one of some 3,000 pioneering cruisers on board MSC Grandiosa, the first cruise liner to return to the Mediterranean following the global shut down of the multi billion-dollar cruise industry in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
The voyage was characterized by Covid testing, social distancing, hand sanitizing and temperature checks, but it was, Belardi told CNN, also relaxing and enjoyable. More importantly it was, reportedly, virus-free.
MSC Cruises wouldn't confirm exact numbers, but the Grandiosa was operating at about 60% of its 6,300 passenger capacity.
There were day trips, including sightseeing in the Maltese capital Valletta and the Sicilian city of Palermo. While on board, Belardi enjoyed pre-packaged snacks on the deck, relaxing evenings by the pool and a trip to the spa.
"I think cruises could be the safest holiday, right now," said Belardi, who owns travel company Vivere & Viaggiare Roma Pittaluga.
But MSC Grandiosa is almost alone in its return to the high seas. Read more >>