MSC Cruises has announced that it has suspended remaining 2015 calls in Ukraine and Egypt, replacing them with a number of Mediterranean alternatives.
MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera, MSC Fantasia and MSC Musica will, from autumn 2015 to winter 2016, variously incorporate the Greek islands of Rhodes and Crete, as well as Cyprus and Israel, into their sailings.
"These itinerary changes attest to MSC Cruises’ permanent focus on the safety of guests and crew – the number one priority at all times," MSC said in a release announcing the decision.
Guests will enjoy the coastline of the Black Sea and the city of Nesebar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They’ll also discover the culture and customs of Bulgaria at the ancient town of Sozòpol. MSC Sinfonia, as part of her two 12-night sailings out of Genoa, will call at Burgas, Bulgaria.
Travelers will visit Rhodes, dubbed “the island of the Knights” after the Templars who once reigned there, and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors will admire the Grand Master Palace and the archaeological site of Lindos. MSC Opera and MSC Fantasia will call at Rhodes, Greece.
In addition, MSC Cruises will call at Heraklion in Crete. Guests will follow the path of the Minoans at the Knossos Palace while taking in the food and folklore of this Aegean island. MSC Opera and MSC Fantasia will call at Heraklion in autumn and winter 2015-2016, while MSC Sinfonia will call there during a Grand Voyage to Durban, South Africa, in November 2015. MSC Musica will also call in Crete on her own Grand Voyage from Dubai to Venice, in April 2016.
Guests will take in Aphrodite’s Rock, said to be the birthplace of the Greek goddess of love, or visit Apollo’s Temple and the ancient site of Pafos. For this, the port of call will be Limassol in Cyprus, where MSC Musica will call during her Grand Voyage to Dubai, in November 2015.
MSC Cruises will also offer the opportunity to discover the Negev desert, the Dead Sea and the Fortress of Masada from the Israeli port of Eilat, which lies at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Aqaba. MSC Sinfonia’s guests can enjoy the city and its surroundings as part of their Grand Voyage to Durban this November.
"In addition to allowing MSC Cruises to offer an expanded range of destinations to our guests, whilst maintaining the spirit of the original itineraries, the changes announced today also reflect the company’s ongoing focus on safety for passengers and crews alike - our number one priority at all times," MSC said. "Indeed, in light of the current geo-political situation, ports of call in Egypt and Ukraine needed to be, at least for the time being, substituted until they are again perceived to be safe in the eyes of consumers. The new destinations also allow MSC Cruises to address market request for availability of an expanded range of destinations in the region to cruise guests."
Increased Frequency in the Canary Islands
In response to the high demand, MSC Opera will also increase the frequency of her itinerary calling at the archipelagos of the Canary Islands, Spain, and Madeira, Portugal, with an overnight stay in Funchal/Madeira for her schedule in the Canary Islands during the winter 2016.
MSC Cruises will also call at Casablanca in Morocco, the gateway to discover the Moroccan desert, Marrakech or Agadir, four times in the winter of 2016.
In one cruise, guests can enjoy the Sahara Desert and the souks of Marrakech and Agadir.
Guests can also discover Tenerife’s Teide volcano which, as the highest point in Spain at 3,718-metres, is rich in myths and legends. On a two-day stay in Madeira guests will discover Funchal, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, with its exotic gardens, palm-fringed seafront and volcanic black sand beaches.
MSC cruises offers guests the unique possibility to combine both itineraries and spend a 14-night cruise aboard MSC Opera.