MSC Cruises has announced that it will be the first major cruise line to homeport a ship in Cuba this winter.
According to a report on Cruise Critic (www.cruisecritic.co.uk), these voyages will be bracketed by a pair of transatlantic crossings.
Originally scheduled to run a season of Canary Islands cruises this winter, the 2,120 passenger MSC Opera will instead sail from Genoa on December 2nd, arriving in Havana on the 21st. The ship will then depart Havana on April 21st for an eastbound crossing, scheduled to end in Warnemunde, Germany, on May 7th.
Beginning on December 22nd, the soon to be lengthened and refurbished MSC Opera will begin a series of some sixteen, seven night round trips from Havana. In addition to scheduled stops in Mexico, Grand Cayman and Jamaica, all voyages will offer a full, two night stay in the legendary Cuban capital as a compelling central feature.
The voyages, arranged as cruise only packages, go on sale to UK passengers from July 9th. People wishing to add a flight package will find that Air France offers flights from many UK regional airports to Havana, connecting over their main hub at Charles De Gaulle airport, just outside of Paris.
Though these sailings will not be initially available in America, the recent re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana surely means that this will change in the not too distant future.
This bold move represents a real coup for MSC, allowing them to steal a march on all their mainstream rivals in the cruise market. And, with the damage recently suffered by year round, chartered Cuba Cruises’ stalwart, Celestyal Crystal, MSC Opera could well dominate Cuba cruising for the potential future.
These are truly fascinating developments. As ever, stay tuned for updates.