Italy’s cruise industry is preparing to sail again in Mediterranean waters, hoping to help jumpstart the country’s economy while restoring the reputation of the beleaguered global sector. MSC Cruises, a privately owned company based in Geneva, will resume operations with two departures from Italy this month, it said at the weekend. It becomes the first global operator to announce cruises for the lucrative Mediterranean market after the coronavirus pandemic froze cruises throughout the world. The MSC Grandiosa and MSC Magnifica are to set sail on August 16 and 29 from Genoa and Bari, respectively, to sites in Italy, Malta and Greece in a high-stakes gamble for the industry that Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has called a “fundamental part of our economy”. Italy’s 14.5 billion euro ($17 billion) cruise industry — Europe’s largest — is a key economic driver that supports nearly 53,000 jobs, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). A Europe-wide suspension of cruises through August could result in a total economic loss of about 25.5 billion euros, CLIA has calculated. Italy approved the restart of its cruise industry from August 15 as part of efforts to revive a moribund economy devastated by a more than two-month quarantine, with cruise operations suspended in March.