MSC Cruises to home-port MSC Opera in Havana, Cuba, in December 2015

MSC Opera

MSC Cruises has announced it will become the first mainstream cruise line to home-port in Cuba with MSC Opera calling Havana home for the winter 2015-16 season.

The new itinerary will give holidaymakers from around the world the opportunity to visit Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Mexico along with two nights and two and a half days in the Cuban capital. A total of 16 Caribbean cruises will be on offer.

Gianni Onorato, Chief Executive Officer of MSC Cruises, said “We are particularly proud to make this exciting new destination available to our guests. For this, I wish to personally thank all those who worked with us over the past several months to make it possible for MSC Cruises to launch Cuba as a destination to its guests. In particular, I wish to thank the Ministers of Transportation and Tourism of the Cuban Government and their representatives for their continued, highly professional contribution. The move to Cuba proves our commitment to offer our guests and holiday-makers the best and most sought-after destinations as they become accessible – thus further enhancing our global offering while providing travellers best-in-class experiences and service.”

The sailings, which will be available to book from Thursday 9 July, will be available to UK passengers on a cruise-only basis.

The first cruise will depart from Havana on 22 December 2015, following MSC Opera’s Grand Voyage to Cuba from Genoa, departing on 2 December 2015. The Grand Voyage will include a call in Havana on 18 December, and resume its itinerary in the region before heading back to Cuba for its final call of the journey on 21 December. On 12 April 2016, the ship will leave Havana for a Grand Voyage back to Europe, with Warnemünde, Germany, as its final destination, arriving on 7 May 2016.

During the two-and-a-half-day stay in Havana, passengers on the 2,120-passenger MSC Opera will be able to explore the city’s stunning old centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and discover its history, culture and architecture.

As a result of this announcement, MSC Opera’s original winter 2015-16 schedule in the Canary Islands, Madeira and Morocco has been cancelled. UK guests who had already booked a Canaries sailing for winter 2015-16 will now have the opportunity to receive a full refund or transfer their holiday to alternative MSC Cruises Mediterranean itineraries, with the offer of upgrades or on-board credit as compensation. Alternatively, guests can switch their booking to Cuba with a low rate fixed fee to account for the difference in flight costs.

(Photo credit to MSC Crociere)