With glimmers of hope filtering through the news streams and an end to the pandemic insight, it is time to bring out the suitcases and the passport – it’s going to be travel time very soon. The World Travel Magazine reader has lost much of 2020 sitting at home and gazing out of the window, hoping and dreaming. 2021 is different – it’s a gradual fade from despair to hopefulness, happiness and gratitude. With a vaccine certification in hand, the world of travel reopens.
Quick on the heels of vaccine approvals, MSC Cruises has launched their winter cruise programme for 2021/2022 (October 2021 to April 2022) with a tempting array of itineraries in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the Gulf region as well as South America and South Africa.
Cruise The Gulf This Winter 2021 With MSC
Gulf emirates such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are working hard to bring in world-class attractions, events, performances and cultural activities for 2021. With the Expo 2020 Dubai postponed for the winter of 2021, there is more reason to spend time living it up in the Gulf. MSC Cruises has dedicated two ships for this region offering overnights in Dubai.
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(1) MSC Virtuosa, one of MSC Cruises’ newest ships, launching in April 2021, will spend her first winter season in the region, homeporting in Dubai. From there, the ship will sail to the nearby modern metropolis of Abu Dhabi, on to Sir Bani Yas Island, where guests will have a chance to discover an exotic array of wildlife or bask in the warm sun on the immaculate beaches, all exclusive to MSC Cruises on the days which the ships call. The ship also calls Bahrain, and Doha, Qatar’s futuristic capital, before returning to Dubai with an overnight in the city to discover all the marvels it has to offer.
(2) MSC Opera, will offer a 7-night itinerary that includes two overnights in Dubai to fully explore this incredible city and call Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas and Muscat in Oman.
Cruise The Mediterranean
The desire of cruising the Mediterranean is on all bucket lists. Sailing past the Greek islands or through the Corinth Canal is never a one-time affair for cruise lovers. MSC Cruises has deployed four ships for this popular region, which we are sure will be sold out very soon.
(3) MSC Grandiosa, will call in some of Europe’s most popular destinations. With its numerous palaces and winding streets, Genoa will serve as a key embarkation port for guests, as well as the artistic and gastronomic wonderland of Barcelona and key to the South of France, Marseille. In addition to these gems, the ship will call in the beautiful Palermo, Civitavecchia to access Rome, and the awe-inspiring old port of Valletta, Malta.
The glamourous (4) MSC Fantasia will also sail a classic seven-night itinerary with the choice of multiple embarkation ports in MSC Cruises’ most visited destinations, Barcelona, Marseille and Genoa, as well as Italian cultural highlights, including La Spezia – with easy connections to Florence, Pisa and the Cinque Terre – and Naples – famous for their pizzas the world over, before calling in Palma de Mallorca, in the Balearic islands.
(5) MSC Magnifica will offer extended 11-night cruises with two different itineraries for those looking for a little more adventure next winter. The first starts in Genoa and then to Greece, calling Katakolon, Piraeus and Rhodes before reaching Haifa in Israel where the ship remains overnight allowing a full day to discover ashore, then on to Heraklion, Civitavecchia and back to Genoa. The second itinerary visits five countries – starting in Genoa, Barcelona in Spain then on to Casablanca in Morocco for an extended stay, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Funchal in Portugal, Malaga in Spain and then Italy with Civitavecchia and Genoa.
(6) MSC Poesia will offer 5- and 10-night cruises out of Genoa before embarking on Genoa’s 2022 World Cruise on 5 January.
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Cruising the ever-popular Caribbean
MSC Cruises will deploy five ships in the Caribbean next winter – with ships sailings from Miami and Orlando (Port Canaveral), a brand-new home port for MSC. In addition, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises’ private destination in The Bahamas, will remain a highlight of cruises from the U.S., with nearly all itineraries including a call at the island.
Following her inaugural season in the Mediterranean in summer 2021, (7) MSC Seashore will head to her new homeport of Miami in November 2021, offering alternating 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, including stops at Ocean Cay in The Bahamas.
The classic and charming (8) MSC Armonia, homeporting in Miami, will offer a choice of 3-, 4- and 7-night cruises that include Ocean Cay, and on some itineraries providing an overnight stay at the private island itself.
(9) MSC Divina, known for her elegance and sophistication, will start the season out of Orlando (Port Canaveral), before then moving to Miami in December 2021. This popular ship for the U.S will offer a range of itineraries with 3- and 4-night short cruises to Ocean Cay and Nassau in The Bahamas, a variety of different 7-night itineraries and extended 11-night cruises (starting in December 2021) that call Jamaica, Aruba, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Ocean Cay.
For the first time, the innovative and wondrous (10) MSC Meraviglia will homeport in Orlando (Port Canaveral) offering a mix of shorter 3- and 4-night cruises and 6-, 7-and 8-night cruises (starting November 2021) with full-day calls in the Mexican ports of Costa Maya and Cozumel.
(11) MSC Seaview will also call the Caribbean home during the winter 2021/22 season, this time homeporting in Fort-de-France, in the shadow of Mount Pelée and a stone’s throw from the Jardin de Balata botanical gardens. She will sail from Martinique’s capital on through the Antilles and West Indies, with a series of seven-night cruises. Highlights include Saint Lucia, Guadeloupe and Antigua and Barbuda, where the mesmerising clear blue waters and white sandy beaches will appeal to sun-worshippers’ desires.
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Cruise The South Tip Of Africa
Exploring the wild coast of Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Reunion and Mauritius has been made easy with MSC Lirica and MSC Musica. (12) MSC Lirica will homeport in Cape Town and (13) MSC Musica in Durban between November 2021 and April 2022 to offer 14 different cruise itineraries that range in length from two to 14 nights.
Cruising in South America
MSC Cruises is bringing in four modern ships with embarkation in Brazil and a fifth ship in the region with embarkations in Argentina. (14) MSC Seaside, (15) MSC Preziosa, (16) MSC Splendida, (17) MSC Sinfonia, and (18) MSC Orchestra will cover Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina with itineraries ranging from 3 to 10 nights.
2021 is already being chalked out as an exceptional year, with substantial pent up demand for travel, exploration, experimentation and above all new, refreshing experiences. Watch this site for more cruise and travel stories in the coming weeks. ◼
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© This article was first published online in Jan 2021 – World Travel Magazine.