Since the CDC's no-sail order to the on March 14, cruise ships of very different size and circumstance set course for port.

The sea has now been emptied of its cruise ships and their 23.63 million annual passengers. All apart from one.

The MSC Magnifica due to dock today in Marseille is the final ship still sailing with passengers. It's been quite a reposition. The last time her 1,769 passengers were allowed to disembark was in New Zealand, on the 10th of March.

The round-the-world cruise which began in Genoa on January 9th could not have expected an exotic and as-yet unnamed corona virus to develop into pandemic, nor had they thought their ship would be the last one left sailing.


Crossing the Tasman, towards Australia on the 14th of March, the advice of the CDC had caught up with them along with advice against docking in Hobart.

The captain of the Magnifica, Captain Roberto Leotta, realised that letting passengers disembark would increase the risk of any disease returning to the ship.

"We decided it was much better for our passengers to remain safely on board," he told the BBC. So, by the time they arrived in Sydney on March 16 he announced to his passengers that the world cruise was now over, and they would be returning home.

Last cruise ship on Earth: The MSC Magnifica was the last ship of an era ended by Covid 19. Photo / Supplied
Last cruise ship on Earth: The MSC Magnifica was the last ship of an era ended by Covid 19. Photo / Supplied

Crew and guests now faced with the prospect of sailing 16,881 km to Europe, roughly half way round the world, without shore visits. A trip that would take them 37 days to complete.

Passengers kept themselves occupied with games, and were allowed to freely socialise. They even set up a Facebook group for "the last cruise ship on earth."

With the only two other ships, Pacific Princess and Costa Deliziosa, having finished their sailings on Sunday, in Los Angeles and Genoa – the Magnifica really was the last ship left at sea.

It seems she might have this title for quite some time.

The CDC last updated its no sail order for on April 9, and without further extension or an unlikely call to overturn it, the order is set to expire no sooner than June 22nd.


Most cruise lines have proposed restart dates towards the end of June, with Princess Cruises proposing sailings from July 1 and Carnival Cruises as soon as June 27.

There is uptake on these sailings, with many passengers offered to defer holidays that were cancelled due to the pandemic. However, there is a question as to how soon cruising will return to normal and if the Magnifica might not have been the last cruise as we might recognise them - from a world pre covid-19.