MSC Cruises has been forced to make some significant changes to the itinerary of its World Cruise onboard MSC Poesia, just before departure. MSC Poesia set off on her impressive 121-day world cruise journey on January 5, 2024, from Genoa, Italy.
The changes are significant, leaving out parts of the cruise through the Mediterranean and the Middle East, including stops in Malta, Greece, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
MSC Cruises Alters World Cruise Itinerary
Booking a world cruise is a decision that is usually done with care and consideration, in particular considering which ports the ship will sail to. While many will know and accept that various changes will be made to the itinerary, it’s still a shock when a significant part of the cruise is scrapped altogether.
Yet, that is what guests on the 121-day World Cruise onboard MSC Poesia have had to deal with this past week. The cruise set sail on January 5, 2024, but just days before, at the end of December 2023, MSC Cruises decided that the vessel would not be sailing through the Red Sea area. With terrorist threats from Houthi rebels, cruise ships sailing through the area are taking considerable risks.
North West area manager of MSC Cruises Gianni Pilato said to ANSA: “The safety of passengers and crew is in the first place for our company, so we necessarily had to make changes to avoid the passage in the Red Sea. We will sail along Africa from the western part, on the Cape of Good Hope route.”
Beginning in the Mediterranean, MSC Poesia would be sailing to four embarkation ports: Civitavecchia, Genoa, Marseille, and Barcelona. The vessel would then continue to Malta, Cyprus, and Rhodes. After transiting through the Suez Canal, it would sail along the East Coast of Africa.
The route was designed to circle the Atlantic, touching upon Africa, South America, the Caribbean, the U.S. East Coast, and Canada, before concluding in Northern Europe, with Germany as the final stop. Onboard the 92,627 gross tons MSC Poesia are some 2,300 guests from 57 countries and over 1,000 international crew members.
World Cruise Security Concerns
The new itinerary bypasses the Red Sea, sailing west out of the Mediterranean, down Africa’s west coast, around the Cape of Good Hope, and then north along the African east coast.
This adjustment removes stops in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, including the passage that MSC Poesia would make through the Suez Canal, and replaces them with new destinations like Alicante and Malaga, Spain; Tenerife in the Canary Islands; Dakar in Senegal, and Mindelo in Cape Verde.
Despite the changes, most original destinations are still included in the itinerary, but in a different order. This means that ports on Africa’s eastern coastline, such as Mombasa, Kenia; Mauritius; Madagascar, and Durban, South Africa, are now towards the end of the first half of the voyage.
The second half of the cruise will sail across the Atlantic to South America, where the ship will sail along the Amazon River to Manaus, Brazil, through the Caribbean and up the US east coast, to Greenland, ending in the spring of 2024 in Northern Europe.
Disembarkation will be Rostock-Warnemünde, Germany. Post World Cruise, MSC Poesia will be based in Warnemünde for the summer season of 2024.
Though the removal of various European and Middle Eastern ports from MSC Poesia‘s itinerary might have initially surprised guests, the decision is entirely justified given the current security climate.
In recent weeks, we have witnessed drone attacks on several vessels, highlighting the risks associated with cruising in the region. Despite the challenges, the rescheduling of ports ensures that guests still have ample opportunities to experience Africa and beyond.