MSC Cruises

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Review of MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises Ltd (MSC Crociere, msccruises.com/en-gl) is a passenger shipping company headquartered in Genoa and Naples. MSC was established in 1960. Today, MSC Crociere is a fully-owned subsidiary of MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) - the world's 2nd largest containership company (after Maersk). MSC Crociere is the world's largest privately-owned cruise company. Stats for 2020-Q4 show MSC ranked the world's 3th largest cruise shipowner (by combined fleet's passenger capacity ~13%), preceded by Carnival Corporation (39%) and RCG-Royal Caribbean (24%). The company's current management team is led by Pierfrancesco Vago (Executive Chairman), Gianni Onorato (CEO), Emilio La Scala (President and Managing Director).

In 2021 was launched the company's new travel brand MSC EXPLORA JOURNEYS, with a separate fleet of four luxury ships. The brand's main competitor on the European market is Viking OCEAN.

Between its official launch (2003) and July 2019, MSC served 20-million passengers. MSC is currently the world's fastest-growing cruise company with a USD 20,5 billion investment plan (2017-2027) for building 17 new liners and increasing its fleet to 29 vessels.

The parent company MSC (shipping) was founded and owned by its current Chairman Gianluigi Aponte (1940-born). Since 2014, the company's President and CEO is his son - Diego Aponte, while his daughter (Alexa Aponte Vago) is the CFO. MSC entered the ship cruising market in 1988.

The company's main competitor on the European market is Costa Cruises.

Company history

Founded by Achille Lauro as "Lauro Lines" (aka Flotta Lauro), MSC entered the cruise shipping business in the 1960s. Initially, MSC operated two ships - Achille Lauro (IMO 5390008, launched as "Willem Ruys") and Angelina Lauro (IMO 5264077, launched as "Oranje"). Angelina Lauro (1939-1979) burnt in St Thomas USVI in 1979. Achille Lauro (1947-1994) sank off Somalia'scoast due to onboard fire.

MSC Cruises logo - CruiseMapper

In 1985, Achille Lauro was hijacked by Palestinian Liberation Front members, and the accident resulted in decreased passenger numbers. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) purchased Flotta Lauro in 1989, and renamed it "StarLauro Cruises". Achille Lauro caught fire and sank in 1994. In 1995, the company changed its name to "MSC Cruises". Fleet's oldest liner - the 1982-built MSC Melody - was sold in November 2013 and scrapped in September 2018 (as MS Qing).

In 2014, MSC announced that its four Lirica-class boats are scheduled for refits and extensive drydock refurbishments under the company's "Renaissance Program" (budgeted USD 273 million). By this project, all four vessels (Armonia, Lirica, Opera, Sinfonia) were stretched/elongated by 25 m (80 ft).

Ship-reconstruction works were done at Fincantieri shipyard in Palermo Sicily, between 2014 (August 31) and 2015 (November 17).

MSC cruise ship stretching (Armonia, Lirica, Opera, Sinfonia)

Since 2021, all MSC cruise ship refurbishment projects are conducted at Palumbo Malta Shipyard (co-owned by MSC / 50% stake). Palumbo Group's other shipyards are in France (Marseille) and Italy (Ancona, Naples, Savona).

Most of MSC's fleet operates in Europe (Mediterranean and Baltic). The company's other strong markets are the USA (Caribbean), Canada New England, East Asia, South America, South Africa. Because of the international passenger base, all shipboard announcements are generally read in Italian, Spanish, French, German and English. Onboard mealtimes are fixed, with assigned seatmates. Optional dining includes Lido buffet restaurant, sushi, and Italian eateries.

MSC liners offer standout evening show entertainment - from classical concerts and jazz to contemporary dance music and circus-type acrobatics. Voyages are typically priced at value-oriented levels, but the liners offer an unprecedented range of modern vacation travel amenities and services that cost extra, such as fees for port shuttle buses, a la carte restaurant menus, etc.

Company changes 2022

In mid-March, MSC Group announced a partnership with Travelife Ltd for Explora Journeys' shore excursion program. "Travelife for Tour Operators" allows tour companies and travel agents access to the company's online management system (16x sustainability modules) with excursion checklists, planning tools, travel- and tourism industries' best sustainability practices examples.

In late-March, MSC became the Official Cruise Partner of "Formula 1".

In August, the entire MSC fleet received "ISO 21070:2017" certification (issued by the International Organization for Standardization) for marine environment protection. The certification specifies the onboard procedures regarding waste management practices (collection, separation, treatment, storage).

Company changes 2021

For summer 2021 season (July-October) MSC chartered flights (26000+ seats) to offer fly-cruise packages via partnerships with Europe's largest airlines including Iberia (Spain), Alitalia (Italy), Air France, Eurowings (Germany) and Neos (Italy). This way MSC guaranteed accessible airports and convenient flight times for accessing the homeports (embarkation ports) of 6x ships deployed in the Western Mediterranean (Grandiosa, Seaside), Eastern Mediterranean (Splendida, Orchestra, Magnifica), and the Baltic (Seaview). The package deals were also inclusive of airport-ship bus transfers and COVID health insurance (EUR 25 pp, by Europ Assistance).

On October 6, 2021, MSC opened bookings for Magnifica's Northern European winter 2021-2022 season - the company's first-ever winter season with deployment in the Baltic Sea. Starting on November 14th, the program offered 7-night roundtrips from all call ports in the itinerary (Hamburg, Ijmuiden-Amsterdam, Zeebrugge-Bruges, Le Havre-Paris, Southampton-London) and up to 12-hour port stays.

Company changes 2020

On July 30, 2020, MSC Cruises Ltd and Palumbo Group formed a 50-50 joint venture company to operate Palumbo Malta Shipyard (in Citta Cospicua). The Palumbo shipyard has 4x drydocks and will be used for refurbishments and general maintenance works on MSC ships (passenger and cargo) as well as on other cruise and ferry companies' vessels. The facilities will be updated, including with technologies to handle LNG-powered ships. The deal was signed by Pierfrancesco Vago (MSC Cruises' Executive Chairman) and Antonio Palumbo (Palumbo Group's founder and Chairman).

In late-November 2020, MSC signed a long-term agreement with ABP Southampton for preferential docking rights. The deal starts in summer 2021 with the homeporting of MSC Magnifica at Southampton's newest/5th passenger terminal. By this agreement, every year MSC has to homeport at least one ship in Southampton.

Company changes 2019

In May 2019, MSC became the industry's first mainstream cruise shipping company with a permanent office in Canada (Mississauga, Ontario). MSC Cruises Canada's new office is served by 15 employees (full-time staff) led by Ian Patterson (Country Manager). With the Canadian office, MSC also launched two new websites - MSCCruises.ca (for consumers) and MSCbook.com/ca (for travel agents). Both websites debuted in English and were later upgraded with French language versions. MSC Cruises Canada has a bilingual call center and provides bilingual materials (brochures, flyers) for potential clients and travel agencies.

In early-December 2019, MSC signed with Japanet a 5-year sponsorship deal for V-Varen Nagasaki - Japanese professional football club owned by Japanet (TV shopping channel). As of 2020, the company also partners with the professional football clubs Chelsea FC (London England), Paris Saint-Germain FC (Paris France) and SSC Napoli (Naples Italy).

Company changes 2018

Since September 2018, MSC has an exclusive partnership with "Mohegan Sun" - Uncasville (Connecticut USA)-based casino/gambling complex operated by Mohegan Tribe and located on reservation land along Thames River. By this deal are matched MSC's loyalty program (Voyager's Club) with Mohegan Sun's Momentum program. Momentum members receive exclusive cruise perks (including booking discounts, priority embarkation-disembarkation, onboard amenities). MSC's shipboard casino program offers customers the chance to play on over 1300 different slot machines fleetwide, plus various table games. Onboard casino rewards also include specialty dining, spa treatments, booking discounts. Mohegan Sun loyalty program members receive the corresponding MSC status based on their current casino card levels.

In mid-October 2018, MSC planned to eliminate single-use plastics fleetwide by March 2019. The list of such items includes bags, cups, cutlery, toothpicks, aprons, stir pins, drink mixers, coffee lids. By the end of 2018, they will be replaced with 100% compostable and biodegradable substitutes made of renewable resources (corn-based polylactic acid, paper, bamboo, other organic materials. In addition, shipboard drinks are no longer served with straws.

In late-November 2018, MSC signed an exclusive partnership with Chelsea Football Club to become its official global cruise partner (January 2019 thru June 2024). The deal includes LED advertising at Stamford Bridge (football stadium in Fulham/west London). By the agreement, Chelsea FC representatives attended MSC Bellissima's naming ceremony (March 2019) and on the new ship was also displayed Chelsea FC memorabilia.

New ships

In 2015, MSC ordered 4 newbuilds from STX France and Fincantieri Italy, with an option for 3 more units. The first two vessels were delivered in 2017 - MSC Meraviglia (May) and MSC Seaside (November).

MSC Seaside-class cruise ship

On February 1, 2016, MSC announced it would build two "Meraviglia Plus"-class mega-liners, with max capacity 6300 passengers. The two newbuilds (Grandiosa/2019, Virtuosa/2021, Euribia/2023) have 200 additional cabins and are 16 m (50 ft) longer compared to Meraviglia-class (2444 staterooms). The last unit's/Euribia's construction started on June 28, 2021.

MSC Seaside-class cruise ship

The first Meraviglia-Plus vessel was delivered in November 2019 (Grandiosa), the second - in February 2021 (Virtuosa). MSC also announced new features on Meraviglia-Plus ships, including the first at sea fine art museum with original artworks. The additional space allows bigger (111 m / 36 ft long) indoor Promenade and a larger LED screen (95x6 m / 280x20 ft). The extra space also allows two additional restaurants. The line has an exclusive partnership with both Samsung (providing the technology) and Cirque du Soleil (live show programming shipboard).

During Seaside ship's delivery ceremony (November 29, 2017), MSC announced the order of 2 more (Seaside-EVO class) ships from Fincantieri (contract value EUR 1,8 billion). The new boats are bigger (16 m longer, 17330 GT tons larger, capacity 467 more passengers) in comparison to Seaview-Seaside. Newbuilds' deliveries were scheduled for 2021 May (Seashore) and 2022 November (Seascape).

  • LOA length 339 m
  • Width 41 m
  • Height 74 m
  • GT 169,400 tons
  • Capacity 5632 passengers, 1648 crew
  • Cabins 2270

MSC Cruises Seaside-EVO class ship

In early-August 2018, MSC signed an agreement for EUR 1,5 billion (USD 1,74B) for financing both Seaside-EVO liners. The financing was via a partnership with a syndicate of lender banks (Unicredit, BNP Paribas, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti). Fully backing the credit line was the Italian export credit agency SACE SIMEST. With the addition of Seaside EVO, MSC had an unprecedented total investment of EUR 10,5 billion into 12 new vessels with scheduled deliveries by 2026.

On November 30, 2017 (during Seaside's launch) the company Marlink (world's largest independent satellite Internet provider) provided over 0,5 gigabit per second throughput on its Sealink VSAT network. Seaside's record-breaking Internet speed was enabled on Intelsat's new EpicNG satellites. Marlink is MSC fleet's provider of satellite Internet via optimized "cloud of bandwidth". As of 2017, Marlink had as part of its Sealink network 25 satellites and 32 overlapping beams.

On June 14, 2018, MSC signed with STX France shipbuilding order for 5th Meraviglia-Class ship (delivery in 2023, dual-fuel LNG -powered engines). With this order, MSC had 13 newbuilds under construction or on order (2017-2026), of which 5x LNG-powered. The announcement was made at St-Nazaire yard. The ceremony was attended by Bruno Le Maire French Minister of Economy and Finance) and Pierfrancesco Vago (MSC's Executive Chairman). The event celebrated 3 major milestones - steel-cutting of the 4th Meraviglia-class vessel (Virtuosa), Coin ceremony of Grandiosa and float-out of Bellissima. For the first time in the shipyard's history, 3 vessels of a single shipowner were simultaneously under construction.

On October 18, 2018, MSC signed with Fincantieri an MoA (memorandum of agreement) for building 4 new (ultra-luxury class) ships. The contract's total value was over EUR 2 billion. Compared to the company's current fleet, these vessels will be smaller (GT 64,000 tons, 500 staterooms). The first boat enters service in 2023, and the remaining 3 will be launched one per year (2024-2025-2026). The signing ceremony was attended by Pierfrancesco Vago (MSC's Executive Chairman) and Giuseppe Bono (Fincantieri's CEO).

A curious fact is that Sophia Loren (1934-born Italian film actress) is MSC's traditional Godmother, naming each newbuild boat since 2003.

(NEW) MSC Silenseas ships by STX France

On January 20, 2020, MSC and Chantiers de l'Atlantique (STX France) signed an MoU for the development of a sail-based (wind-powered) prototype of a cruise liner. The new class will be based on the Silenseas concept (introduced by STX France in 2018) that represents hybrid propulsion combining sails with dual-fuel marine engines.

new sailing cruise ship design (STX France Silenseas)

MSC's new cruise vessel will be able to sail with min wind speed 15 knots () and wind angle 50+ degrees. The currently considered design features GT tonnage 23,000, LOA length 210 m (689 ft), passenger capacity 300 (150 staterooms).

The sailing ship can reach speeds of 12 knots (14 mph / 22 kph) under sail in 15 knots (17 mph / 28 kph) winds. In winds over 15 knots, the vessel's propellers will be used, acting as a turbine that draws power from the sails. On Caribbean Sea routes, the new technology could reduce propulsion energy by 60%.

 

STX France's sail-ship design was developed for 3 vessel sizes, the biggest being 15,000 GT tons vessel with LOA length 190 m (620 ft) and 150 passenger staterooms. The French shipbuilding company started research in sail propulsion in 2009, Silenseas has technology patents (2009 and 2017) for the new sail. The unit is made from fiberglass, carbon and epoxy-resin panels. Similar is the concept of Peace Boat's new vessel Ecoship (built by Arctech Helsinki Shipyard in Helsinki, Finland).

STX France's new wind-power technology was trialed on the Ponant-owned superyacht Le Ponant, on which one of the existing sails was replaced and the new technology tested.

Shipboard safety

In October 2017, MSC Cruises installed on Meraviglia a modern "Man Overboard Detection System". The company also announced its plans to install such systems fleetwide.

This is an intelligent video capturing, image processing and analysis system that was tested and tuned on the cruise ship for over 25,000 hours, resulting in confirmed accuracy level of 97%. The real-time video data (provided by the ship's HD CCTVs) is monitored and analyzed in a central security center by 2 independent image processing systems, which significantly lowers false alerts.

When the alarm activates (in a man overboard case), light and acoustic signals notify the ship's security officer who can immediately review the recorded video and notify the Navigation Bridge crew to start a rescue operation.

MSC World-Class liners

On April 6, 2017, during Meraviglia ship's delivery ceremony at STX France shipyard (Saint-Nazaire), MSC signed a new ship construction MoU ("memorandum of understanding") with STX France for a new series of 4 vessels (World Class) at a total cost EUR 4.5 billion. The ship's order was signed on May 31, 2017.

MSC Cruises World-Class ship

World Class MSC ships are with a max capacity of 6761 passengers. The number of staterooms is 2632 (passenger capacity 5264 lower berths). Building cost (per unit) is EUR 1,125 billion, the shipbuilder is STX France. Each vessel has GT tonnage/volume 205,700 tons, LOA length 333 m (1094 ft), beam/width 47 m (154 ft), height 68 m (223 ft). The shipbuilding order included 2 initial vessels, plus 2 optional units.

Among these liners' key features are latest generation LNG-powered marine engines, new wastewater treatment plants, ultra-modern marine architecture with a Y-shaped superstructure (better panoramic views, significantly increased number of balcony staterooms), G-bow hull (vertically positioned / at a 90-degree angle, improving the vessel's stability and hydrodynamics/fuel efficiency), family-themed "villages", panoramic aft pool, glass-covered pool deck.

MSC Cruises World-Class ship

The first "MSC World" ships will be launched in the years 2022 (MSC World Europa) and 2024 (MSC World America). The two optional vessels (if ordered) will be launched in 2025 and 2027.

In January 2016, MSC signed a partnership with Samsung for latest technology equipment upgrade fleetwide. Among the provided by Samsung equipment are top-line flat HDTVs (for passenger cabins), LED screens and digital signage boards (in public areas), specialized medical equipment (for onboard hospitals), augmented reality mirrors, printing solutions.

In April 2018, the company introduced its new "Family Explorer Club" excursions program with expected over 250,000 children on cruises in 2018. The new tour program is designed to involve kids and their parents on custom-made shore excursions. The first boat offering this program was Divina. The new interactive land tour experiences are themed on the destination's history and each tour features a local historical character symbolic to that destination/city. Teams are equipped with digital explorer maps, detailed instructions for the mission, and kids receive stickers for every accomplished task. On these family-only tours, kids are booked half-price. Excursions usually start later in the morning and have a max duration of 4 hours.

MSC private islands (Sir Bani Yas, Ocean Cay)

In December 2015, MSC unveiled plans to develop an "unprecedented exclusive marine reserve island experience in the Bahamas". The USD 200-million project was launched in Nassau, where The Bahamas' Prime Minister and MSC's Executive Chairman signed a 100-year lease agreement, enabling MSC Cruises to occupy and develop the island - officially named Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

MSC Cruises Ocean Cay Island port

Ocean Cay was a 2-year long, USD 200 million project. The island is sized 95 acres / 38 hectares (0,38 km2 / 0,15 mi2) and is the world's only private marine reserve. It has a 3470 m (11400 ft) long beach front across 6 beaches, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve is the biggest Caribbean private island development done by a cruise company. An interesting fact is that when the MSC ship is berthed in Ocean Cay, all its onboard facilities and services (including the casino) stay open and operational. Ocean Cay Island is surrounded by 64 mi2 (166 km2) of protected waters with coral reefs and ~90 different fish species.

In June 2016, MSC officially announced the exclusive "beach oasis" for MSC cruiseship tourists on roundtrips from UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) starting winter 2016-2017. The 2,5 km (1,5 mi) stretch of land on Sir Bani Yas Island features shaded cabanas, hundreds of palm trees and 2000+ sunbeds across 36,000 m2 (387,500 ft2) of sand beaches. Other facilities and amenities available on the island include food and drink bars, MSC Aurea Spa (wellness complex, massages), sports facilities (beach volleyball, tennis), family-kids playground area (with pergola / outdoor garden for parrents), Bedouin tent (selling hand-made local arts and crafts), lounge space (live music, full-service bar), exclusive beaches (with VIP areas and cabanas).

Sir Bani Yas island

The MSC island development is on a smaller isle connected to the main island by wooden boardwalk allowing exclusive access to MSC passengers. MSC worked closely with ecologists and the Abu Dhabi Port Authorities for over 2 years to develop the island and support the ongoing preservation work. The isle is one of the region's largest wildlife reserves due to decades of conservation works and ecological investments to maintain its biodiversity. The "Arabian Wildlife Park" on the main island is home to over 13,000 endangered and indigenous animals, as well as millions of plants and trees.

The first cruise to Sir Bani Yas Island departed on December 3, 2016 (visiting the island on December 5). Prices started from USD 720 per person (7-night itinerary on MSC Fantasia). In July 2016, Costa Cruises announced that Sir Bani Yas Island will be added as a 1-day stopover (port of call) during season 2016-2017 on Costa neoRiviera. In 2017-2018, neoRiviera was replaced in Dubai by Costa Mediterranea. Costa passengers have access to a private (Costa exclusive) beach with VIP areas with cabanas.

Among the island's shore excursion options are jeep safaris in the wildlife park, sea kayaking, diving and snorkeling tours.

MSC Cruises Asia

In mid-January 2018, MSC announced a new partnership with China's largest online payment platform "Alipay". The deal offers mobile payments fleetwide - on all MSC vessels deployed in Asia. It allows customers to pay for onboard purchases. In November 2017, the Alipay option was introduced on MSC Lirica. Next ship with Alipay technology was MSC Splendida - homeported in Shanghai China since May 2018.

Since May 2017, all Costa Asia-managed cruise vessels (of all Carnival Corporation brands) allow use Alipay payment services onboard. The partnership between Carnival Corporation and Ant Financial Services Group (a subsidiary of Alibaba, China's biggest online trading company) enables Chinese cruise passengers on all Carnival Corp ships in Asia to pay for onboard services and products using their Alipay (mobile payment platform) accounts. Among these onboard services and products are shopping, tours/excursions, food, and drinks. These expenditures are added to the passenger's cabin folio, then cleared via his/her Alipay account on a nightly basis.

(NEW) MSC kids programming

In November 2019, on Grandiosa (fleet's flagship) MSC introduces a new kids' entertainment program featuring hundreds of hours (per week) of themed activities. For children and teens is allocated up to 700 m2 (7535 ft2) of shipboard space with separate rooms for different age groups. The activities include virtual gaming (consoles and arcade machines), large aqua parks with slides, treasure hunts, trivia games, themed parties, supervised playgrounds (indoor and outdoor).

Starting with Grandiosa, MSC now offers 3 new activities for children (MSC Dance Crew, The Drone Academy, Spy Mission) plus a new web series targeting teenagers.

  • "MSC Dance Crew" is developed via partnership with FremantleMedia - the company behind the TV show franchises "The X Factor", "Idols" and "Got Talent". The new music competition experience is based on teams of 12-17-year-old children battling to win the title "dance crew of the year".
  • "The Drone Academy" is via partnership with The Department (London UK-based event agency). The high-tech drone racing activities take place in the ship's Sportsplex and happen at night due to flicker effects and the glowing drones. Teens (battling in teams) are previously trained on drone piloting. The race is at the 390 m2 (4200 ft2) sized arena and includes navigating 15 obstacles in the fastest time possible.
  • "Spy Mission" is MSC's first activity where kids play a central role. They are led through different scenes (throughout the ship) to unravel storylines, follow clues and solve the mystery in order to win prizes.
  • "Cabin 12006" is MSC's new teen-targeting web series tha follows "Kelly and Kloe Onboard" - run for 3 years (2016-2019) with 5+ million views online. Filming the "Cabin 12006" episodes is currently underway on Bellissima (March 2019-inaugurated).

MSC wedding cruise deals

Since 2015, MSC Cruises has a new cruise wedding program available on Caribbean itineraries. The program offers onboard marriages (also ashore) in several Caribbean port destinations, including Nassau Bahamas, Bridgetown Barbados, Grand Cayman Island, Falmouth Jamaica, Cozumel Mexico, San Juan Puerto Rico, Philipsburg St Maarten, Charlotte Amalie St Thomas, and also Miami Florida USA (on the embarkation day only).

MSC partnered with the wedding-planning company "The Wedding Experience" and offers cruise wedding packages with prices starting from USD 1600 (onboard) and USD 2200 (ashore) weddings. MSC's basic wedding package includes a pre-cruise event manager, a ceremony coordinator, 1 bottle of Champagne, 1 cake for two, 1 bridal bouquet, 1-hour photo session.

Event planners work with the couples to handle all the details (weddings and vow renewals). Also provided are wedding consultants and ceremony coordinators. Onboard / ashore receptions and ceremonies offer various options - video/photo packages, fresh flowers, themed music, food and drink packages, also specialty items (personalized stationaries for invitations) and ground transportation for ashore events.

Couples booking groups of 13 or more cabins receive a complimentary balcony stateroom. Couples booking groups of 30 or more cabins receive a complimentary suite. Complimentary Yacht Club stateroom is offered for 50 or more booked cabins. Onboard ceremonies can be attended by up to 150 non-cruising guests.

MSC Cruises' first ship to offer onboard weddings was MSC Divina.

MSC cruise booking and cancellation policy changes

In July 2017, MSC changed the company's cruise booking policy. It now requires final payments to be made 30 days earlier - from 60-days to 90-days prior departure.

  • Cancellations made 89-61 days prior departure result in losing the non-refundable deposit.
  • Cancellations between 46-60 days prior departure result in paying 50% of the original price.
  • Cancellations between 16-45 days prior departure result in paying 75% of the original price.
  • Cancellations made 15 days or less prior departure result in paying the full cruise price.

Since April 2, 2019, tips (gratuities) are included into MSC cruise fares for all UK and Ireland passengers.

MSC's ZOE

On February 1, 2019, MSC officially revealed the in-cabin digital assistant ZOE. The technology ("cruise industry first") was developed by Harman International (US-based company, fully-owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics). Harman International has developed digital audio solutions for major corporations (Including Google, Microsoft, Amazon).

  • ZOE is an artificial intelligence device (voice-enabled, with advanced voice recognition software) available in all passenger staterooms.
  • ZOE speaks 7 languages, answers cruise-related questions, provides info on shipboard services-activities-facilities, makes reservations and bookings.
  • The digital device features far-field microphones, top-quality speaker, quad-core processor (for fast response times), direct phone connection (through Bluetooth). The system can also upgrade its own database to answer previously unanswerable questions.
  • Passenger data (including itinerary/tour and shipboard preferences) is stored in Cloud Storage system and used on the next scheduled voyage.
  • The device (sized ~15 cm) can be activated whenever passengers choose. A waiver must be signed to agree for their personal data to be stored.
 

Starting with Bellissima (2019), ZOE will be available on all newbuild MSC liners - including Grandiosa (2019) and Virtuosa (2020) - and introduced fleetwide over 2019-2024.

"MSC for Me" - fleetwide Digital Innovation Program 2017-2018

Each of the MSC cruise ships is fitted with thousands of connectivity points, digital access points, iBeacons (Bluetooth) and hundreds of interactive digital screens throughout the ship. In all staterooms are implemented RFID (radio-frequency identification) and NFC (near-field communication) access technologies.

The new program is implemented fleetwide but was first introduced on MSC Meraviglia. The ship, launched in June 2017, was fitted with a total of 114 Interactive screens, 244 info screens, 31 virtual screens, 81 video wall monitors, 3050 iBeacons, 700 WAPs (wireless access points), 1200 CCTV cameras.

MSC digitalization program's main features are:

  • The apps implement facial recognition technology and interactive/smart bracelets by Samsung.
  • Digital Concierge app - passengers can reserve/book onboard services, restaurants and shore excursions in real-time. The app is real-time and 24-hour, connecting MSC customers to the company's experienced staff online.
  • Capture - virtual reality tool to preview the cruise itinerary, create personal photo galleries, online sharing.
  • Organizer - a cruise planning tool used at mobile devices. It provides detailed information and also allows pre-booking (tours, theatre seats, dinner table, etc) before ship embarkation (pre-cruise booking) and while onboard (realtime cruise planner).
  • Navigation - Interactive map (way finder) provides advice (scheduled events, opening hours, etc) and directions while on the ship. The app also allows real-time kids monitoring (via bracelets).
  • TailorMade - digital advisor for personal recommendations based on the passenger's preferences (interactive gaming, gambling, culinary, recreational, entertainment, etc).
  • Passengers can always opt out of all these connected ("Internet of things" / IoT) services offered.
  • All passenger staterooms are fitted with door locks with built-in keypads (Samsung SHS-1321 NFC Ring).

MSC fitness cruise packages

Since 2017, MSC Cruises offers an upgraded fleetwide onboard wellness experience via a partnership with TechnoGym. It is part of the company's cruise fare-inclusive offers that can be chosen upon booking.

  • The new program starts with an online questionnaire determining the customer's specific wellness goals, aspects of a healthy lifestyle (exercises, healthy diet, weight loss).
  • The new wellness program is linked with the company's fitness-themed cruises. It also includes one-time personal trainer consultation. Personal training sessions are available onboard at extra cost.
  • Also included are themed shore excursions (jogging, hiking, cycling), fitness classes (hula hooping, barre, yoga, Pilates).
  • Resistance bands and workout mats are provided on the ship for in-cabin use.
  • TechnoGym workout gear and laundry service for the exercise clothing are provided on the ship.
  • Healthy food menu options are available in the ship's main dining rooms and Lido buffet restaurants.
  • Deals are also inclusive of a medical evaluation with the ship's doctor (blood pressure, EKG, lipid panel).
  • The new "Wellness Experience" program is operated with a total of 5 fitness cruise packages available for booking. Pricing starts from USD 930 pp (7-night itinerary, Interior Stateroom).

FREE Birthday cruise

In 2017, MSC started offering a new "free cruise deal" for customers celebrating their birthday. in case your birthday falls during select cruises, it is complimentary.

  • MSC's free cruise offers are on itineraries in Europe (Mediterranean, Baltic), Asia (Arabian Peninsula /Dubai), Caribbean (West Indies, Cuba). Longer itineraries are available through World Voyages.
  • Booked passengers can extend their free birthday cruise and combine itineraries into B2Bs (back to back cruises) from 14 to 22 nights.
  • Bookings must have at least one paying passenger and only one free birthday passenger. The birthday of the passenger must fall on one of the itinerary days, but excluding the arrival and departure days.
  • Such offers are usually promotions, subject to selected availability and valid for lower cabin categories only (usually excluding Suites).

MSC's "Dolphins Fan Cruise"

MSC Seaside ship's itinerary March 17-24, 2018 (7-day Caribbean and Antilles roundtrip from Miami to Nassau Bahamas, St Thomas USVI, St Johns Antigua) was officially themed "Dolphins Fan Cruise". This special voyage was the result of the 3-year partnership between MSC and the NFL team. The sports-themed voyage will be hosted annually over the next 3 years (2017-2020). The 2018 voyage's prices started at USD 700 per person (balcony cabin rates based on double occupancy).

During these sports cruises, passengers have the opportunities to interact in person with team alumni. The list of pre-scheduled onboard activities includes:

  • Meet team's legends Joe Rose, Kim Bokamper, Nat Moore, Patrick Surtain, Sam Madison, Terry Kirby.
  • Take autographs from the alumni, and get a photo with the team's cheerleaders.
  • Cheer alongside team's cheerleaders and hype up the crowd with the mascot TD (The Dolphin).
  • Enjoy special performances by cheer squad and the mascot.
  • Get to know former players during Q&A sessions.

On April 28, 2018, the ship hosted the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders for the team's annual calendar photo shoot, with special onboard show programming.

  • Via company's "Save & Sail" summer promotion, potential MSC cruise customers had the chance to book a balcony stateroom on the "Cheerleaders voyage" starting at USD 650 pp. The off-promo prices started from USD 1098 pp (Inside Cabin rates with double occupancy).
  • Cheerleaders cruise itinerary (April 28 - May 5) was a 7-day roundtrip from Miami to St Maarten Island, Puerto Rico and Bahamas (Nassau).

MSC virtual reality ship tours

Samsung and MSC developed a cutting-edge virtual reality tool for touring MSC cruise liners. The new technology was announced during at Expo Milano 2015 (May 1 through October 31, 2015).

With this innovative technology, MSC made available to the company's top European sellers (travel agencies) a powerful tool for introducing the brand to potential customers. The technology is based on Samsung's "Gear VR" headsets (powered by Oculus) plus a custom-built software app. Potential MSC passengers can walk through any cruise ship in the fleet without setting foot on board. The tool allows "walking" through 6 key onboard areas (including staterooms, restaurants, pools, theatre / also watching a show). The 360-degree sensory experience even brings aromas in the air (when observing an onboard restaurant) - such as fresh-baked bread, fresh fruits, chocolate.

The virtual cruise ship tour technology uses software and hardware by AxedGroup. The virtual ship tour app runs on Samsung Galaxy Note phones. Other experiences include tours of new (prototype) MSC ships *currently under construction).

MSC EXPLORA JOURNEYS (luxury expedition cruise brand/6-ship fleet)

In January 2018 strong rumors started to circulate about MSC considering the establishment of a new (all-inclusive luxury) cruise brand. There was also the possibility (instead of creating a new brand) MSC to just create a parallel "expedition" fleet, but in 2020 was confirmed that this would be a new brand.

MSC Explora Journeys logo

The rumors were officially confirmed in mid-March 2021 when was announced the new brand's senior management team.

  • Michael Ungerer (CEO), Chris Austin (CSO-Chief Sales Officer)
  • Sarah Doyle (CMO-Chief Marketing Officer)
  • Thatcher Brown (Commercial and Strategic Advisor), John Stoll (Destination Experience Advisor)
  • Sacha Rougier (Itinerary Planning, Shore Experience)

In late-November 2021 was announced the brand's Commercial Team - Jason Gelineau (Head of Product), Helen Beck (Head of Global Sales), Saul Fonseca (Head of Sales for The Americas and USA East), Aimee Price (Head of Sales for Canada and USA West), Priti Mehta (Head of Sales for the UK and Ireland), Francisco Sanchez (Head of Sales for Germany, Austria, Switzerland), Leyre Torres Campo (Business Relationships Manager for Southern Europe/Spain, France, Italy).

In February 2022 as Head of Culinary was appointed Franck Garanger. He was previously employed by Silversea (as Line Chef, Executive Chef, Fleet Corporate Chef) and by Oceania (as Culinary Director). In June 2022 the new brand's Senior Leaders joined Alban Gjoka (Culinary Operations), Julanda Marais (SPA Operations), Carmela Paval (Housekeeping Operations), Vitor Alves (Hotel Operations), Drew Gowland (Entertainment and Enrichment), Thibaut Briancon (Food and Beverage Services), Paolo Milordo (Travel Food and Beverages Services).

Previous to their MSC employments, Chris Austin worked for Seabourn (SVP Global Sales and Marketing), Sarah Doyle for Bacardi Europe (Vice President Marketing), Thatcher Brown for GHK Dream Cruises (President) and Crystal Cruises Asia (Managing Director), Sacha Rougier for Cruise Gate Hamburg/Center Steinwerder (Managing Director), John Stoll for Crystal and Silversea (as Director Land Programs).

In November 2022, to the management team were added 7 new positions - Heike Berdos (General Manager), Simone Canessa (Staff Captain), Antonio Iaccarino (Chief Engineer), Franck Garanger (Head of Culinary), Jerome Toumelin (Corporate Executive Chef), Frederic Godineau (Senior Executive Chef), Christophe Sapy (Corporate Executive Pastry Chef).

MSC Cruises Explora-Class ship (Explora Journeys)

In June 2021 MSC officially launched its expedition cruise brand "Explora Journeys". The mandala-inspired logo was designed by Alexa Aponte-Vago (MSC Group's CFO, MSC Group founder Gianluigi Aponte's daughter, and Pierfrancesco Vago's wife).

The fleet consists of 6x smaller-sized vessels (MSC EXPLORA-class) with max passenger capacity~1000 and volume ~64000 GT-tons each. The boats are all built by Fincantieri and initially deployed in Europe for 7-night Mediterranean and Baltic and longer Iceland itineraries. All the six units are constructed at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard (near Trieste) and have building cost EUR 495-600 million (USD 600-700 million) per unit.

MSC's "Explora Journeys" ships will be introduced on an annual basis (2023-2024-2026-2027-2028).

  • In late-September 2020, Versonix Seaware announced that MSC's new brand will use the Versonix system for online booking. Annually, Versonix serves 20+ million passengers and 100+ ships. Versonix (1986-founded) is a Silicon Valley company (headquartered in San Jose CA USA) specializing in hotel and resort reservation technologies. The company is run by Victor Velton (President) and Yuri Polissky (CEO).
  • On June 10, 2021, was the steel-cutting of the first vessel (Explora I) and the official launch of the brand.
  • On April 4, 2022, was announced Explora Journeys' partnership with Signature Travel Network (El Segundo, CA USA-based company specializing in technology solutions and brand promotion/advertising/marketing). As of 2022, Signature Travel Network had 1300+ preferred partners including cruise lines/brands, tour operators and travel agents, suppliers, flight consolidators/airline brokers, car rental companies, hoteliers.
  • In July 2022, MSC signed a contract with SES SA (Luxembourg-based owner and operator of medium Earth orbit/MEO satellites and terrestrial telecommunications networks) to provide "O3b mPower" (satellite connectivity) to Explora 1. SES' O3b mPower combines the company's second-generation MEO system (based on satellites positioned ~8000 km / ~5000 mi above the earth) and GEO satellites (geosynchronous equatorial orbit) positioned at altitude~35800 km / 22300 mi.
  • On July 20, 2022, was signed the partnership with Amadeus (online travel booking platform).

MSC's Explora Journeys investment was estimated at ~EUR 3,5 billion.

Explora Journeys' operations officially start in May 2023 (with MSC Explora I).

In July 2022, MSC announced that the Explora brand offers a newly-developed "Destination Experiences" (cruise+tour) program grouping 5x different leisure tours/land excursion types for tailored ashore experiences. Next are listed the cruisetours scheduled for Explora I's maiden season (2023).

  • Beyond Boundaries (guided tour to Bordeaux' Chateau Margaux/Premier Grand Cru Classe)
  • Tailored Experiences (helicopter tour over Medoc Peninsula, sailboat tour around Malta, tuk-tuk tour in Lisbon)
  • Enchanting Explorations (forest bathing near Porto City, Portugal)
  • Boundless Discoveries (flamenco masterclass in Cadiz, photography class on Mykonos Island)
  • In-Country Immersions (history- and culture-themed activities in the visited destinations)

(Coronavirus crisis) passenger shipping pause 2020-2021

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, MSC Cruises suspended its North American fleet's passenger shipping operations (all US-homeported liners) by canceling all voyages with pre-scheduled departures in the period March 14, 2020, through May-June 2021.

European operations resumed in 2020 on August 16 (Grandiosa) and October 19 (Magnifica) but all voyages were eventually canceled. MSC had its fleet fully operational by June 5th, 2022.

Next are listed MSC's first scheduled departure dates by ship/region/homeport - ARMONIA (April 10, 2022/Mediterranean from Venice), BELLISSIMA (July 2021/Red Sea from Jeddah Saudi Arabia), DIVINA (Sept 16, 2021/Bahamas from Port Canaveral), FANTASIA (Nov 7, 2021/Mediterranean-Genoa), GRANDIOSA (Jan 24, 2021/Mediterranean-Genoa), LIRICA (April 12, 2022/Med-Aegean-Athens), MAGNIFICA (June 20, 2021/Adriatic-Greece from Venice), MERAVIGLIA (Aug 2, 2021/Caribbean from Miami), MUSICA (June 5, 2022/Mediterranean from Monfalcone), OPERA (April 24, 2022/Mediterranean-Genoa), ORCHESTRA (June 5, 2021/Adriatic-Greece from Venice), POESIA (April 30, 2022/Med-Baltic repositioning/Rome-Rostock), PREZIOSA (Sept 23, 2021/Mediterranean-Genoa), SEASHORE (Aug 9, 2021/Mediterranean-Naples-Messina-Valletta-Barcelona), SEASCAPE (Nov 19, 2022/Maiden Voyage/Transatlantic from Rome to NYC New York), SEASIDE (May 1, 2021/Mediterranean-Rome-Genoa), SEAVIEW (July 3, 2021/Kiel Germany), SINFONIA (March 26, 2022/Mediterranean from Venice), SPLENDIDA (June 12, 2021/Adriatic from Trieste), VIRTUOSA (May 20, 2021/UK-British Islands from Southampton), WORLD EUROPA (Dec 21, 2022/Maiden Voyage/Red Sea from Dubai).

  • In early-January 2021 MSC planned to start Mediterranean cruises (with Grandiosa) scheduled between January 24 and March 21. The 7-day itinerary (leaving on Sundays from Genoa) visited Civitavecchia, Palermo, Naples and Valletta (Malta), with embarkation available in all the Italian ports.
  • MSC USA's pause (ex-Florida cancellations) affected 3 ships - Meraviglia and Armonia (from Miami) and Divina (from Port Canaveral).
  • MSC South America 2021-2022 winter program was canceled (due to Brazil's new policies/ordinance 657) affecting 4 ships (Sinfonia, Orchestra, Preziosa, Splendida).
  • LIRICA's Mediterranean 2021 season (7-day roundtrips from Ancona and Venice) was canceled and the liner restarts operations in 2022 (April 11/Aegean from Athens).
  • MUSICA's South Africa 2021-2022 program (from Durban) was canceled.
  • OPERA's Red Sea 2021-2022 program (from Dubai) was canceled.
  • PREZIOSA's 2021 Baltic season (Baltic-Norway from Hamburg) was canceled.
  • MSC's 2021-2022/winter South America (Preziosa, Seaview) and Arabia-Dubai (Fantasia) programs were canceled.

All affected bookings received full refunds in FCC (future cruise credit), including on prepurchased through MSC packages and services. With rebooking (made by December 31, 2021) was offered a 125% refund in FCC. Available for rebooking were all departures thru April 30, 2022. Optionally was offered a 100% monetary refund.

 

Itinerary of MSC Cruises

This section provides a concise review of MSC's current and future cruise itinerary program. The company operates regularly scheduled voyages in Europe (Mediterranean, UK, Baltic), Caribbean (ex-Florida USA departures), South America, South Africa, Asia, Arabia Gulf. Currently, MSC has no plans for ship deployments in Alaska.

MSC's Grand Voyages are seasonally offered relocation cruises (RepositionCruises.com) including Transatlantic crossings (Europe-USA-Caribbean, Europe-South America), Suez Canal (Mediterranean-Arabia/Dubai UAE), Mediterranean-Baltic-UK, Europe-South Africa. Cruises to Nowhere MSC offers in South Africa.

In 2023 will be inaugurated MSC's ultra-premium expedition travel brand "Explora Journeys" (fleet). This is a separate subsidiary company that manages a fleet of 4x boats (Explora I, Explora II, Explora III, Explora IV). Explora Journeys operates global itineraries including in Europe (Mediterranean, Baltic, UK, Iceland), New England USA and Canada, Alaska, Caribbean.

With its newbuilds, MSC attracts a large number of retirees during winter and targets families with kids during summer and the school holidays. The company's smaller liners offer longer and more exotic itineraries but lack modern kids' facilities as they are tailored to older travelers.

Itinerary changes 2023-2024

MSC Preziosa is due to be based in Santos (Sao Paulo, Brazil) offering a range of mini cruises and 7-night trips that feature Uruguay and Argentina along with voyages calling at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) for New Year and Carnival in February. The ship’s local season ends with a 22-night Grand Voyage out of Santos and Rio to Northern Europe for Summer 2023.

MSC Bellissima is due to replace her sistership Virtuosa in the Mediterranean, where she is scheduled to sail the planned 7-nights calling at Genoa-Milan, La Spezia, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Marseille.

MSC USA's schedule 2023-2024 (winter season) listed 5 boats based in PortMiami (Divina, Magnifica, Seascape), Port Canaveral (Seashore) and NYC (Meraviglia). From New York City, Meraviglia operates roundtrips to Bermuda, Florida-Bahamas and Canada-New England.

Summer 2024 itineraries were put on sale in December 2022. 22 cruise ships feature including the continuation of departures out of Southampton (England UK) by MSC Virtuosa. Ex-UK voyages start from 4-night breaks leading in at GBP 259, 7-night cruises starting at GBP 649, and a 14-night itinerary departing on September 7th, 2024, to Casablanca (Morocco), Canary Islands, and Lisbon (Portugal), with prices starting at GBP 1,449.

The cruise line is also bringing a new ship, MSC Euribia, to Southampton UK for winter 2023-2024 sailings.

Arabian Gulf 2023 cruises from Dubai and Qatar

On May 31, 2021, MSC opened for booking the voyages scheduled for MSC World Europa - the fleet's newest and ever-largest liner.

The ship currently has planned an inaugural season in the Middle East (December 2022 through March 2023) based on a 7-day itinerary leaving roundtrip from 3 homeports - Dubai UAE (Port Rashid), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Doha (Qatar).

  • The itinerary's call ports include Sir Bani Yas Island (UAE), and Dammam (Saudi Arabia, port to Al-Ahsa Oasis). Prices for the 7-night roundtrips started from EUR 815 (USD 995 / GBP 700) per person with double occupancy.
  • World Europa's Maiden Voyage departs on December 20, 2022. The 9-night Doha roundtrip visits Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas, Dammam, ending in Doha (Dec 29). Prices started from EUR 1280 (USD 1565 / GBP 1100) per person. The "Inaugural Cruise" was also offered as a 4-night Doha-Dubai voyage.

The "Arabian season" ends on March 25, 2023, with the 19-day repositioning cruise to Europe (Dubai to Genoa) with call ports Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas, 1 seaday, Muscat (Oman), 4 seadays, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Suez Canal transit (April 6-7), 2 seadays, Naples, Civitavecchia-Rome, Genoa (April 12).

The ship's Mediterranean itinerary program is based on 7-night roundtrips from homeports in Italy (Genoa, Naples, Messina Sicily), Spain (Barcelona) and France (Marseille), all visiting Valletta (Malta)

Cruises from China

In May 2018, MSC Splendida started service on the Chinese market following its 2017 drydock refurbishment. The China-based (Shanghai) itinerary program included destinations in Japan, Korea, China.

MSC offers cruises in China since 2016 (with MSC Lirica), followed the deployments of Splendida (2018), and Virtuosa (2022).

MSC 2023-2024 itineraries

MSC's 2022-2023 winter deployment features 2 new ships debuting in December 2022 - World Europa (UAE) and Seascape (from PortMiami). The fleet's 21 vessels sail to 190+ global destinations across 85 countries/territories. Choices range from mini-cruises of 3 nights to the 118-night World Cruise. MSC World Europa (MSC's first LNG-powered liner) is deployed in the Middle East starting December 20, 2022.

Caribbean and Antilles

  • Seascape (PortMiami). 7-night Eastern Caribbean (Ocean Cay and Nassau Bahamas, San Juan, Puerto Plata Dominicana) 7-night Western Caribbean (Ocean Cay, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios Jamaica)
  • Meraviglia (Port Canaveral). 3- to 7-night (Nassau and Ocean Cay, Costa Maya and Cozumel, Belize City)
  • Divina (PortMiami). 3- to 10-night (Ocean Cay, Belize City, Roatan Honduras, Costa Maya, Ocho Rios, Cartagena Columbia, Colon Panama, Puerto Limon Costa Rica)
  • Seaside (Fort-de-France, French Antilles). 7-night (Pointe-a-Pitre Guadeloupe, Castries Saint Lucia, Bridgetown Barbados, St Georges Grenada, Kingstown Saint Vincent and the Grenadines)

Western Mediterranean

  • Grandiosa. 7-night (Genoa, Civitavecchia/Rome, Palermo Italy, Valletta Malta, Barcelona Spain, Marseille France)
  • Virtuosa: 7-night (Genoa, La Spezia/Florence, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, Marseille
  • Lirica (Genoa) 11-night (Civitavecchia, Messina Sicily, Lindos/Rhodes, Heraklion/Crete, Limassol Cyprus, Haifa Israel) 10-night (Ceuta, Malaga, Barcelona, Alicante, Tangier and Casablanca/Marrakech Morocco, Marseille)

World Voyages

MSC offers 2 world cruises on Magnifica and Poesia in 2023. Magnifica departs from Civitavecchia (Rome) on January 4, while Poesia departs from Genoa on January 5.

South America

  • Seashore (Brazil). 7-night (Maceio Salvador & Buzios Brazil)
  • Seaview (Rio de Janeiro) 3- to 8-night (Buzios, Ilhabela, Ilha, Grande/Angra dos Reis, Ilheus & Salvador Brazil, ports in Uruguay & Argentina)
  • Fantasia (Santos, Brazil) 3- to 7-night (Buzios, Ilha Grande/Angra dos Reis Brazil, Montevideo & Punta Del Este Uruguay, Buenos Aires)
  • Armonia (Itajai/Santa Caterina, Brazil) 7-night (Ilhabela Brazil, ports in Uruguay & Argentina)
  • Musica (Bueno Aires) Ilhabela, Rio de Janeiro, Buzios, Ilha Grande/Angra dos Reis Brazil

South Africa

  • Sinfonia (Cape Town) Mossel Bay, Walvis Bay and Ludertize (Namibia).
  • Orchestra (Durban) Pomene & Portuguese Island/Inhaca Archipelago (Mozambique), Walvis Bay (Namibia), Cape Town (South Africa)

Middle East

  • World Europa (Dubai) 7-night (Abu Dhabi/Dubai, Sir Bani Yas, Dammam/Al Ahsa Oasis Saudi Arabia)
  • Opera (Dubai) Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas, Muscat, Khasab (Oman).

South America 2023-2024 (winter itineraries)

In December 2021, MSC opened sales for South America 2022-2023 season (November-April) based on 6 ships - 4x homeported in Brazil, 1x in Argentina and Uruguay, while the 6th operates a World Cruise that visits South American ports.

  • Seashore operates 6- to 8-nights roundtrips out of Santos (Sao Paulo, Brazil) with rotating visits to Maceio, Salvador de Bahia, Ilha Grande, Buzios, with alternative boarding in Maceio and Salvador.
  • Seaview from Rio de Janeiro operates 3- and 4-night mini-cruises, as well as 5- to 7-night itineraries visiting Salvador, Ilheus, Ilha Grande, Buzios.
  • Fantasia and Armonia from Itajai (Brazil) are cruising off the Brazilian coast.
  • Musica is sailing from Argentina and Uruguay on 7- to 10-night itineraries, also visiting Brazil.
  • Magnifica has scheduled a 117-day "World Cruise 2023" visiting ports in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Uruguay.

For season 2022-2023 MSC deployed 5x ships in South America (Armonia, Fantasia, Preziosa, Seashore, Seaview). MSC increased its Brazilian market capacity by ~30% by adding Preziosa, with scheduled 22x departures from Santos (December-April) and itineraries 3- to 8-night in length.

MSC Cuba cruises from Havana

In January 2016 MSC became the 1st global cruise line to homeport in Havana, with MSC Opera sailing to Jamaica, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands. MSC Armonia operates on 8-day (7-night) itineraries, visiting ports in Central America and the Caribbean:

  • 8-day roundtrip from Havana, visiting Roatan (Honduras), Belize City (Belize), Costa Maya (Mexico), Isla de la Juventud (Cuba)
  • 8-day roundtrip from Havana, visiting Montego Bay (Jamaica), George Town (Grand Cayman) and Cozumel (Mexico).
  • Cruisers can combine both itineraries into a 14-night Havana back-to-back cruise.

Cuban itineraries on MSC Opera were roundtrips from Havana.

Note: According to the current Cuban law, US citizens of Cuban origin (born in Cuba) are not allowed to visit the island country (including on cruise ships). Regardless of their US citizenship status, Cuba-born Americans were denied booking on cruise itineraries visiting ports in Cuba. However, the situation changed in April 2016, after Carnival Corporation negotiated with the Cuban government for allowing ships with Cuban-born passengers, as such US citizens are allowed to visit the country on USA-Cuba charter flights. The Carnival-fathom line started Miami to Cuba cruises in May 2016.

Alaska Airlines offers regular nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles (California USA). An 80-min ling JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale (Florida) to Havana costs less than USD 100. Previously, air travel from the USA to Cuba was thought charter flights only.

IMPORTANT: On June 4, 2019, the US Government announced new regulations (economic sanctions) that ended group travel to Cuba, including via US-homeported cruise liners, effective immediately. The ban relates to "private and corporate aircraft, cruise ships, sailboats, fishing boats, and other similar aircraft and vessels". The US travel restrictions impacted hundreds of pre-scheduled cruise itineraries, which were adjusted to no longer stop in Cuban seaports.

(NEW) PortMiami MSC Terminal AAA

In July 2018, Miami-Dade County and MSC signed an agreement for extended preferential berthing rights and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the building of a new Cruise Terminal AAA at Port Miami.

Port Miami is the exclusive home port of the company in the United States. The new agreement extends the existing Saturday preferential MSC berthing rights also to Sundays. Additionally, the new cruise terminal, due to be completed by October 2022, is projected to be able to accommodate line's next-generation, MSC World Class cruise ships (still under construction) carrying up to 7,000 passengers.

The revolutionary MSC Seaside, which debuted late 2017, sails year-round from Port Miami to the Caribbean from recently completed Terminal F. Line's MSC Divina also offers seasonal Caribbean cruises from October through March, while MSC Armonia joins the North American-based fleet of MSC Cruises beginning year-round voyages to Havana December 2018.

As of November 2019, MSC Cruises' largest ship, MSC Meraviglia joins the other 3 ships at PortMiami.

MSC Cruises related cruise news

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