MSC Cruises will be replacing the current Middle East-deployed cruise ship MSC Fantasia with the newer MSC Splendida for the coming cruise season in the Arabian Gulf as part of a global reshuffle of its fleet.
MSC Splendida, a sister ship to MSC Fantasia, will cruise roundtrip from Dubai from December 23rd, offering 7-day Dubai to Dubai cruises from the UAE’s cruise hub to all the major cruise destination in the Arabian Gulf.
The current itinerary for the coming 2017/18 cruise season from December to late March has her sailing from Dubai every Saturday, visiting Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Bahrain, Doha in Qatar and then returning to Dubai.
This itinerary will alternate with a 7-day cruise from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas Island again, but with Doha and Bahrain switched out in favour of Muscat in Oman and Khor Fakkan on the UAE’s east coast.
Given the recent political tensions in the Arabian Gulf between Qatar and the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it may be necessary for MSC Cruises to cancel the westbound itinerary altogether, but the cruise line has not yet made a decision on it.
Guests will be able to book the week-long roundtrip Dubai cruises as a single itinerary, or book a 14-day butterfly itinerary that merges the two cruises into one two-week roundtrip Dubai cruise.
For the 2018/19 Middle East cruise season MSC Cruises have dropped the butterfly itineraries in favour of one straightforward 7-day roundtrip Dubai to Dubai cruise that visits Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Muscat and Khor Fakkan before returning to Dubai.
MSC Splendida was meant to be deployed year-round in Shanghai from 2017 onwards, but will instead spend the winter cruising in the Middle East.
The redeployment is part of a major fleet shakeup for MSC Cruises, which has several ships on order and recently took delivery of its newest mega cruise ship MSC Meraviglia. MSC Meraviglia will sail in Northern Europe in 2018, using Hamburg as a turn-around port in the summer.
The new MSC Seaview will head to Brazil for winter 2018-2019 after her debut season sailing in the Mediterranean.
MSC sales literature released in the UK market shows the 2018-built ship repositioning from the Mediterranean for Santos in Brazil. Prior to that, the ship spends her inaugural season homeporting in Genoa, offering week-long cruises with calls in Italy, Malta, Spain and France.
The MSC Divina will also leave her year-round post in Miami to offer the 2018 summer season via seven-day cruises from Genoa, with alternative embarkation in Rome, Valencia and Marseille.
The Seaside will stay in Miami for 2018, and the Divina will be back in the Caribbean for the 2018-2019 winter.