MSC Cruises has reached out to guests booked on the April 6, 2024 departure of MSC Seaside to notify them that the 17-night sailing, a Grand Voyage and repositioning cruise from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, has been cancelled.
Guests are being offered options for the change, but some travelers are upset at what could appear to be curious timing.
MSC Seaside Cruise Cancelled
MSC Seaside will no longer be offering her planned transatlantic cruise poised to depart Fort de France, Martinique on April 6, 2024, as booked guests have been notified that the sailing has been canceled.
The cruise was to have marked the end of the ship’s winter Caribbean season and move her across to the Mediterranean Sea for the 2024 summer season. Along the way, the 17-night cruise was going to visit top destinations in Guadeloupe, Barbados, Antiqua, St. Maarten, Spain, and France before arriving in Genoa, Italy on April 23.
Now, guests have received an email letting them know about the cancellation and their options moving forward.
“We are contacting you with an important update affecting your booking. We regret to inform you that, due to operational reasons affecting the deployment of some of our ships, we have had to cancel your Grand Voyage on MSC Seaside,” the email stated. “We know that you spent time planning your perfect cruise and we sincerely apologize for the disappointment that this will likely cause.”
Further deployment changes or shifts for the ship’s other itineraries have not been announced at this time, and it is unknown if further sailings may be impacted.
The 153,516-gross-ton MSC Seaside can welcome 4,132 guests at double occupancy, or up to 5,119 passengers if the ship is fully booked with all berths filled.
Two Options to Choose From
Guests whose bookings are now cancelled have two options. First, they may move their reservation to any MSC Cruises sailing now available, with no change fee for the adjustment. Guests will, however, be responsible for any cost difference between the two fares and will have to pay the balance if the new booking is more expensive than their now-cancelled fare.
If the new cruise selected is less expensive than the original fare aboard MSC Seaside, guests will be refunded the difference. Second, guests can opt to cancel their cruise with no penalties and receive a full refund for the payments made.
Guests are asked to update their reservations or request their refund by January 15, 2024. After that time, it is likely any outstanding bookings will simply be refunded, though the cruise line does not clarify that point.
It should be noted that no additional compensation – assistance with airfare cancellations or changes, for example, or future cruise credits above the cost of the cancelled cruise – are being offered. While these are certainly not required, many cruise lines do offer such extra compensation to ease the sting of a cancelled cruise.
Some impacted guests are frustrated at the timing of the cancellation, as they received their notification the day after final payment for the sailing was due.
Any traveler would be disappointed for their cruise to be cancelled, but after having fully paid for the voyage, the disappointment can be especially keen. As the cruise is less than four months away, it may be difficult for passengers to find a comparable voyage for the same period, which may delay their vacation plans significantly.
Still, the cruise line is providing a full refund without any penalties regardless of the timing, so guests are not out any financial investment through the cruise line. Any refunds or fees from airlines, hotels, or other pre- or post-cruise travel arrangements will vary depending on how those arrangements were made and what individual policies may be.
Transatlantic cruises are highly sought after by many guests and are often once-in-a-lifetime voyages even for experienced cruisers. Many cruise lines offer such sailings in the spring and fall, as vessels are moved between the Caribbean and the Mediterranean to take advantage of the best sailing seasons in those popular regions.