MSC Cruises is targeting a restart of sailings in Japan from April 2021.

The company has become the first international line that operates in the country to receive a health and safety certification from the Japan’s official maritime classification society.

This paves the way for the line to open sales in December to local residents for cruises from Japan and start to work with ports in the country to prepare for the forthcoming season.

MSC Bellissima, launched in 2019, will be deployed to Japan, based in Yokohama to sail six to nine-night cruises in April, May and June 2021. The ship is also due to operate in the country during October and November.

MSC Cruises chief executive Gianni Onorato said: “To be the first international cruise line in Japan to be awarded this key certification of compliance is a further testament to our robust and rigorous health and safety protocol which led the way for the entire global industry when in August we became the first major line to resume cruise operation in the Mediterranean.

“We have now safely and responsibly carried more than 30,000 customers in the Mediterranean and can now look forward to offer the same for our guests who live in Japan.

“Our industry-leading protocol, as well as the unique sets of data gathered through the operation of our two ships calling Italy, Greece and Malta during the past few months, is currently being reviewed by authorities in other regions where the company’ other ships are scheduled to restart.

“We believe, therefore, that this certification – in a country where the industry was at the centre of much attention very early in the pandemic – and the confirmation by authorities in Italy through their latest ministerial decree that cruising can continue, will go a long way to demonstrate the trust that we have been able to build with the protocol’s effective measures and their rigorous application for the benefit of guests, crew and the communities we serve.”