MSC: first mainstream line with Havana-based ship

By ,   July 3, 2015 ,   Cruise Industry

MSC Cruises will become the first mainstream cruise line to homeport a ship in Havana, Cuba after it bases MSC Opera there from winter 2015-2016 season.

The Italian line will operate on 16 Caribbean voyages on the 2,120-passenger vessel, including stops in Mexico, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, with two nights in the Cuban capital.

MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer, Gianni Onorato, said they were particularly proud to make that exciting new destination available to their guests. The move to Cuba proved their commitment to offer passengers and holiday-makers the most sought-after destinations as soon as they became accessible.

The first sailing will depart out of Havana on December 22, 2015 following the Grand Voyage of MSC Opera to Cuba from Genoa, leaving December 2. The Grand Voyage will offer a call in Havana on December 18 as well as in other ports in the region before cruising back to Cuba for a final call on December 21.

On April 12, 2016 MSC Opera will depart from Havana for her Grand Voyage back to Europe. Her final destination will be Warnemunde, Germany on May 7. 

The voyages will be available to UK travelers on a cruise-only basis, and go on sale on Thursday, July 9. To offer shore excursions and local ground services, MSC Cruises partners with Cubanacan.

MSC Opera's original schedule in Madeira, Morocco and the Canary Islands for winter 2015-2016 has been cancelled. Those who have already booked will be able to get a full refund or transfer to alternative MSC Mediterranean itineraries with on-board credit or upgrades as compensation. Alternatively, vacationers can switch the booking to Cuba. Fly-cruise clients will be charged at a low rate fixed fee (£285 per person) in order to account for the flight costs' difference.