MSC Extends Pause of Two U.S.-Based Ships, Reveals New Schedules

MSC Armonia
(Photo by MSC Cruises) Sailings from the U.S. on MSC Armonia (shown above) and MSC Seaside have been "paused" through September 15.

MSC Cruises made several major announcements Monday. First, the line paused U.S. departures through September 15. It also cancelled MSC Meraviglia's departures from New York City through October 22. In addition, it cancelled all Caribbean cruises on previous winter schedules for all four ships sailing from U.S. ports and revamped winter/spring schedules across the globe. 

On a positive note, MSC introduced new winter 2020-21 and spring 2021 schedules, including sailings from Central and South Florida. It also plans to introduce year-round cruising from Port Canaveral and operate a robust selection of 2021 voyages globally including its World Cruise

But there are a slew of changes, so consult the line's website, www.msccruises.com, to see new schedules. 

MSC Cruises also said a comprehensive, new safety-and health-protocol for its fleet will be issued in a few days and also confirmed that the new MSC Virtuoso's delivery will be delayed (see below for more details on replacement cruises). 

Here's more...

Voluntary Extension of "Pause"

MSC confirmed that it will extend its pause of U.S. cruise port departures through September 15. That impacts guests booked on cruises on both MSC Seaside and MSC Armonia for departures through September 15. The extension of the pause is in line with a similar announcement made Friday by Cruise Lines International Association's  (CLIA) on behalf of its oceangoing member lines.  

Guests on those two ships impacted by the sailing pause extension through September 15, will automatically receive a 125 percent Future Cruise Credit (FCC) of the original cruise fare paid by July 13 to be used on a sailing on or before December 31, 2021. Guests who prefer to receive a refund instead of an FCC  can complete their request with an easy-to-use online form. 

Schedule Changes

On its website, MSC Cruises now shows these cancellations resulting from its extended pause in U.S. departures, or for other changes made to both winter and spring itineraries:

  • All Caribbean cruises from August 1 through September 15, 2020 have been canceled 
  • MSC Meraviglia cruises to/from New York between September 5 through October 22 have been cancelled. 
  • Winter 2020-21 Caribbean cruises (on MSC Meraviglia, MSC Armonia, MSC Divina, MSC Seaside) from October 31, 2020 to April 27, 2021 have been cancelled due to new cruise itineraries
  • Spring/summer/fall 2021 Caribbean cruises (MSC Divina and MSC Armonia) from March to October 2021 have been canceled due to new cruise itineraries.

As noted, any cancellations in the US market for the pause in suspension of operations through September 15 will be handled for compensation as outlined above.

For other voyages, that the line has cancelled from U.S. or other global ports, here's the policy for Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 Deployment Changes:

All guests whose bookings are impacted by any changes due to the fall and winter 2021 deployment will be moved to another ship serving the same or similar itinerary, while protecting the price of their original booking. In addition, these guests will be eligible for the following compensation:

  • All guests who have booked an inside or oceanview stateroom will receive a stateroom upgrade
  • All guests booked in a balcony stateroom, a suite or a MSC Yacht Club stateroom will receive a shipboard credit of $100 per stateroom for cruises of six nights or less (based on double occupancy, $50 for single occupancy); for cruises of seven nights or longer, guests will receive $200 per stateroom (based on double occupancy, $100 for single occupancy)

Alternatively, MSC Cruises USA guests have the ability to transfer the amount currently paid on their booking to another ship and sailing in MSC Cruises’ fleet or can opt for a refund of their deposit amount, based on normal cancellation policies.

New Fall/Winter Program

MSC Cruises laid out its fall and winter 2020-21 program  (November 2020 to March 2021). The line plans to offer more than 90 itineraries in all regions where MSC Cruises traditionally sails. That includes the Caribbean, MediterraneanSouth America, the Middle East, South Africa and beyond. 

Itineraries will range from two- to 24-night voyages, plus the third MSC World Cruise will depart January 2021 and the line will operate an extensive Grand Voyages program.

"We have reviewed and updated our complete winter 2020/2021 season, starting in late October, and we are pleased to now confirm the full details," said Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, in a press statement. "Our winter program sees us offering cruises in all of the regions of the world where we traditionally operate."

"While there are some updates to the original planned deployment of specific ships, we are still able to offer our main itineraries so that guests can enjoy the [vacation] that they booked with us," Onorato said. 

For example, the planned winter sailings of the new MSC Virtuosa in the Mediterranean, MSC Grandiosa will replace its sister ship, as the delivery of the new vessel is delayed due to the delays and postponements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic; all bookings will be automatically shifted from one ship to the other.

The Caribbean

This winter, MSC Meraviglia will sail seven-night cruises from Miami, alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, departing every Saturday. Eastern Caribbean itineraries will include visits to San Juan, Puerto Rico for an evening experience; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; and Nassau and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in The Bahamas. Western Caribbean itineraries will include stops in Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

For those seeking shorter itineraries, MSC Armonia (now homeporting in Miami not Tampa, as originally planned) will offer a mix of three-, four- and seven-night cruises from Miami to Key West, Nassau and MSC Cruises’ private Bahamian destination, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.  

For the first time, as previously announced, MSC Cruises will introduce Port Canaveral as a new homeport. MSC Seaside will offer a mix of three-, four- and seven-night cruises to the Caribbean. Depending on the itinerary, guests have the opportunity to visit George Town, Cozumel, Nassau and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

MSC Poesia will replace MSC Splendida to serve the South Caribbean and the Antilles with the originally planned itineraries departing from Fort de France, Martinique on seven-night, seven-destination itineraries and 14-night sailings from Barbados visiting some of the best islands the Caribbean has to offer.

The Mediterranean

MSC Grandiosa will replace sister-ship MSC Virtuosa for the winter due to shipyard delays and postponement due to the health pandemic. All guests currently booked on MSC Virtuosa will be automatically moved to MSC Grandiosa, and will sail on their original itinerary, the seven-night “Six Pearls” western Mediterranean cruises, with embarkation possible at each port: Marseille, France; Genoa, Italy; Civitavecchia/Rome, Italy; Palermo, Italy; Valetta, Malta; and Barcelona, Spain.  

MSC Magnifica will offer two December cruises including a five-night Christmas cruise calling Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona and Civitavecchia and a 10-night New Year's cruise from Genoa, Marseille, and Barcelona before calling Gibraltar, Lisbon/Cascais in Portugal, and Cadiz/Seville and Malaga in Spain, and then returning to Civitavecchia/Rome and Genoa.

Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar

MSC Fantasia will replace MSC Seaview and MSC Lirica in this region, offering seven-night sailings with Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the exclusive beach resort of Sir Bani Yas island in the United Arab Emirates, as well as visits to Bahrain and Doha, Qatar. The cruise concludes with an overnight Dubai stay.

South America

MSC Seaview will replace MSC Grandiosa offering seven-night cruises from Santos, Brazil to the northeast of the country and calling the new port of Maceio, Salvador, the island of Ilha Grande/Angra dos Reis and Buzios.

MSC Musica will replace MSC Fantasia and offer seven-night cruises from Santos, visiting Itajai/Santa Catarina, Brazil, Punta Del Este, Uruguay and an overnight in Buenos Aires, Argentina

MSC Sinfonia replacing MSC Orchestra will offer eight or nine-night cruises from Buenos Aires calling Montevideo, Uruguay, Buzios, Rio de Janeiro, Ilhabela or Ilha Grande/Angra dos Reis, and Itajai, Brazil, with the possibility of embarking in the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

MSC Preziosa will operate the originally planned itineraries from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with a range of cruises from three to eight nights.

South Africa

MSC Orchestra will replace MSC Musica, will offer a range of cruises from either Durban or Cape Town to destinations including Maputo, Portuguese Island and Pomene, Mozambique, and Port Elizabeth, as per the original planned itinerary.

A highlight will be a 14-night New Year’s cruise on MSC Orchestra visiting five spectacular destinations, including an overnight stay in Port Louis, Mauritius.

MSC Opera will operate the planned itinerary from Cape Town and Durban.

The Far East

MSC Bellissima will offer a choice of different length cruises in Asia, with the updated program coming soon.

2021 World Cruise and Grand Voyages

MSC Magnifica will sail her third World Cruise. The upcoming, 118-night journey around the globe is fully confirmed, commencing on January 5, 2021 with guests traveling to 53 destinations across 33 countries.

MSC Fantasia, which replaces MSC Seaview, will depart on her Grand Voyage from Barcelona, Marseille and Genoa on November 14, 15, and 16, respectively, as she moves to Dubai for the winter. 

MSC Opera will offer her original planned Grand Voyage itinerary from Italy to South Africa. All other Grand Voyages from Europe to the Caribbean, South America and South Africa will be canceled.

In spring 2021, nine Grand Voyages will be available with ships sailing from the Emirates, Brazil, South Africa, Martinique and the U.S. to Europe.

Helpful for use in agency offices are several new infographics detailing the winter 2020-21 and spring, summer and fall 2021 deployment.

    New Health and Safety Protocol

    MSC Cruises also said it's developing a new, comprehensive and enhanced health and safety protocol in collaboration with national health authorities and with support from a team of external medical experts.

    This protocol will cover all aspects of the cruise from the booking phase through embarkation, the cruise itself and life onboard, as well as disembarkation and the return home. MSC said the new protocol will ensure the health and wellbeing of guests and crew and includes enhanced sanitation measures, enhanced medical facilities and health screenings for guests and crew.

    The full details of these new precautionary health and safety protocols will be announced in a few days. 

    Spring 2021 Season

    Today’s announcement follows MSC Cruises' recent confirmation that the entire fleet, including two new vessels currently under construction, will begin sailing in March 2021 for the spring, summer and fall 2021 season.

    One change in the southern Caribbean and Antilles? MSC Poesia will replace MSC Splendida in that region, operating the originally planned itineraries from Fort de France, Martinique on seven-night, seven-destination itineraries and from Barbados on 14

    In March 2021, MSC Divina will replace MSC Seaside in Port Canaveral, continuing three-, four- and seven-night cruises through November 2021. The ship will sails to such ports as George Town, Cozumel, Nassau and Ocean Cay. See our separate piece today about MSC going year-round at Port Canaveral, FL. 

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