MSC Cruises will this week become the first major cruise liner to start operations in Cuba as part of its efforts to grow a global presence. U.S President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced a year ago they would work towards a normalisation of relations after half a century of Cold War hostilities, although a U.S trade embargo of Cuba, remains in place currently.
MSC Cruises, the largest privately owned cruise line, said while its Cuban cruises were not currently being offered to the US market, bookings from Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have been “above our estimations.” One of the main four global cruise liners in the world, we are the first ones (into Cuba) and the only one not headquartered in the U.S” Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, said in an interview with Reuters.
MSC Opera carry 2,600 passengers is due to arrive in Havana on December 18th , 2015. “Havana has never seen a ship this size,” Mr Onorato said, “and the current port infrastructure is acceptable.”
A second ship, MSC Armonia will join MSC Opera in November 2016 , showcasing for the first time two international ships home porting in Havana, Cuba.
MSC Cruises currently has a fleet of 12 cruise ships, and has orders for up to seven more as part of a 5.1 Billion euro Investment programme. By 2021, MSC Cruises plans to double the number of passengers it carries to 3.4 million people annually.
MSC Cruises is also excited to share its growth in China, with MSC Lirica’s maiden voyage from Genoa Shanghai in 2016. Furthermore, MSC is targeting the Arabian Peninsula as a growing market with MSC Musica home porting in Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the current November 2015 to April 2016 season.
Guests can take advantage of all Cuba has to offer with MSC Cruises “Fly & Cruise” Packages. From $5129 per person for 14 nights, guests can choose from either The Cuba Cha Cha Cha package departing 12thMarch 2016 or Cuba, Conga and Champagne package departing 2nd April 2016. On board MSC Opera, both cruises start in Cuba with two days to explore and then sail to Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Mexico. With flights, transfers, accommodations and meals all included, the holiday begins as soon as you book. *