Spanish ports will figure prominently in MSC Cruises’ itineraries in 2023, when its ships will make more than 500 calls at popular destinations such as Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Malaga, Cádiz and Tarragona.
The cruise line’s focus on Spain follows double-digit growth in the Spanish market last year and includes the home-porting of the mega-ship MSC World Europa in Barcelona this summer.
500 MSC Cruise Calls to Spanish Ports
MSC Cruises’ port call schedule this year reflects a 23% increase in visits to Spain compared to 2022, and will deliver 2 million-plus cruisers to Spanish ports, MSC said in a virtual press briefing on February 14.
20 MSC cruise ships will make 384 this summer out of more than 500 port of calls in Spain by the cruise line in 2023. During the summer, MSC will cruise to 140 destinations in 40 countries.
General Director of MSC Cruises in Spain Fernando Pacheco said, “Last summer we saw a growth of 20% in the Spanish market – compared to 2019 – and, with this excellent figure in mind, for this year we set ourselves the objective of expanding the number of departures from Spain.”
He said MSC is the only shipping company with seven embarkation ports in Spain, a distinction that reflects its commitment to bring Spanish ports closer to national cruise passengers.
Pacheco added, “To achieve this, collaboration with port and local authorities has been essential. We have also developed an air connection plan to bring other destinations closer to our passengers.”
MSC World Europa to Sail From Barcelona
MSC World Europa was inaugurated in Doha, Qatar, on November 13, 2022. The cruise line’s first LNG-powered ship, built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, is operating 7-day winter cruises between Doha and Dubai, and longer voyages from Doha to Mediterranean ports.
The 6,850-guest ship will reposition to Barcelona for the summer series. Port calls from Barcelona will include Marseille, France; Genoa, Naples and Messina, Italy; and Valletta, Malta.
Port of Barcelona President Lluís Salvadó said, “We highly value the commitment that MSC makes both in terms of environmental sustainability and to increase the number of cruise passengers from the base port in Barcelona. Undoubtedly, this commitment will be reinforced shortly, since the company is expected to have its new terminal in Barcelona operational by 2024.”
MSC Euribia to Debut in June
In other updates at the briefing, MSC Cruises noted that its newest ship is set to debut in June 2023. The MSC Euribia, also powered by liquefied natural gas, will debut in Copenhagen and spend her maiden season in Northern Europe, sailing 7-night Norwegian fjords cruises.
Port calls will include the German port of Kiel, plus Hellesylt, Alesund and Flam, all in Norway, and other destinations. The 6,327-passenger ship will be the line’s third Meraviglia-Plus class ship and a sister ship to MSC Grandiosa, and MSC Virtuosa.
According to Pacheco, “Together with MSC World Europa, MSC Euribia will play a key role in achieving our commitment to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It is a unique ship, the second in our fleet powered by LNG, and will use a system advanced wastewater treatment system, as well as an underwater radiated noise management system to minimize the effects of vibrations on marine life.”
With its 2023 ship deployments, MSC Cruises said it will contribute the most capacity growth to the industry worldwide, representing a total capacity of 32.7%. With many of its ships calling at different Spanish ports, the company noted it will contribute to the local economies of the destinations.
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Malaga Port Authority President Carlos Rubio Basabe said, “We started collaborating [with MSC Cruises] during the pandemic to get out of it, last year we started with a series of stopovers and this year’s goal is to strengthen this collaboration by increasing the number of stopovers from 29 to 39. Therefore, I would like to express my satisfaction and readiness to continue collaborating with MSC Cruises and continue to maintain this good relationship.”
Line Expands Air Services
MSC Cruises offers air service bookings to its embarkation ports, and this summer it will add direct flights from Valencia and Malaga for cruises in Northern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, expanding its existing air offers from the Madrid and Barcelona airports.
An MSC statement said, “The included flights service allows cruise passengers to choose itineraries that start far from their location with a more affordable price and favoring a more comfortable and flexible way of traveling for the passenger, since transfers from the airport to the port are included. These advantages will make it even easier for Spanish travelers to book a worry-free holiday at sea.”
The cruise line said that it expects to transport some 60,000 Spaniards via its air booking service. Also, MSC Cruises’ “Stay & Cruise” pre-sailing package will continue to provide up to three nights of hotel accommodation in 4-star properties in Madrid and Barcelona.