MSC Cruises has announced plans for a new homeport in North America: Tampa, Florida. The company will deploy the MSC Armonia to the city starting November 2020.
MSC said that starting November 11, 2020, the MSC Armonia will begin sailing from Tampa to the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas year-round, with a full winter season (running from November 2020 through April 2021) of four- to five-night short cruises followed by a summer season (running from May 2021 through Nov. 2021) of week-long cruise options.
“As MSC Cruises expands its presence in the U.S., the introduction of Tampa as a homeport plays an important role in our long-term deployment strategy for this region,” said Ken Muskat, EVP and chief operating officer of MSC Cruises USA, in a written statement. He noted that the company has seen increased demand from travelers for Tampa cruise options as part of a desire to explore the city and surrounding area.
For the winter 2020-2021 season, MSC Armonia will offer a variety of four- and five-night sailings, visiting destinations such as Key West; Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Progreso, Mexico; and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises’ new private island destination in the Bahamas. With options for guests to book back-to-back cruises with new destinations on each sailing, travelers also have the ability to extend the length of their vacation with nine- or 10-night options. In addition, for those looking to get away during the holiday season, MSC Armonia will offer several seven-night cruise options in December 2020, including Christmas and New Years.
Following its inaugural season in Tampa, MSC Armonia will then transition to seven-night sailings from May through Nov. 2021, with stops at Key West; Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve; Cozumel, Mexico; and Progreso, Mexico.
Shore Excursion Highlights
MSC Armonia’s Tampa itineraries will spotlight the new private island destination of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, which is scheduled to open this November and which will be exclusively for MSC guests. The ship will dock at Ocean Cay from early morning until late evening, providing extra time for guests to take part in a range of activities including shore excursions designed to discover the marine life close up, such as snorkelling, stand up paddle boarding, and kayaking; eco-friendly spa treatments; shopping areas with Bahamian arts and crafts by local artisans; and nighttime events such as traditional Junkanoo parades, lighthouse light shows, and beachside stargazing.
The new itineraries also mark the cruise line’s first call at Progreso, Mexico, providing guests the opportunity to explore the nearby Chichén-Itza or Uxmal, both Mayan archaeological sites and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, or visit the pink salt flats while flamingo spotting.
The ship’s itineraries will also continue to include excursions that are part of the cruise line’s partnership with Martha Stewart, including new experiences in Key West, Ocean Cay and Progreso, to complement existing excursions in Cozumel and Costa Maya.
The MSC Armonia is set to undergo a drydock in November 2019.