After the cruise line was forced to cancel months of cruises due to the crisis in Israel and the Gaza Strip, MSC Cruises has been working hard to find new itineraries for its ships. This has resulted in a winter season for MSC Orchestra sailing to Spain, Italy, and France.
While it’s good news for those looking to book a cruise onboard MSC Orchestra, a total of seven MSC Cruise ships had cruises or itineraries adjusted, with it still being determined what will happen to MSC Sinfonia cruises for the winter season.
New Cruises Announced for MSC Orchestra
MSC Cruises has announced a new winter season of cruises for its Musica-class cruise ship, MSC Orchestra. The cruise line cancelled the whole season of cruises in the Red Sea area for this winter following the war in Israel and Gaza.
The canceled cruises included sailings from November 8, 2023, through April 17, 2024, sailing to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. The risk of the situation in Israel escalating in the region and restrictions in place in countries in the area forced the cruise line to make adjustments.
MSC Orchestra will now be sailing a series of seven-night cruises to Spain, Italy, and France, calling to Cagliari, Civitavecchia, and Livorno, Italy; Marseille, France; and Palma de Mallorca and Valencia, Spain.
The new Winter Season program has cruises sailing onboard MSC Orchestra from December 16, 2023, to April 19, 2024, while the period between November 8 and December 16 has been left open.
Following the cancelation and the release of the new voyages sailing this winter, the cruise line said in a statement that “the safety of its passengers and crew is always its utmost priority, and during an evolving situation, it will continue to monitor the situation and modify ship itineraries if necessary.”
It remains to be seen whether guests who had previously booked cruises on one of the Red Sea Itineraries can now shift their booking to the Western Mediterranean voyages. However, MSC Cruises has already offered guests full refunds, which most likely already took advantage of.
Additionally, the cruise line has also provided guests with the opportunity to book a similar cruise when the cancellations occurred earlier this month.
Cruises onboard a second MSC cruise ship with an entire season of sailings canceled, MSC Sinfonia, have yet to be replaced with new itineraries. If the cruise line intends to return the vessel to operations, this will likely be announced in the coming days or weeks.
Conflict Causes Tourism Chaos
The situation in the Red Sea area has created chaos in the tourism industry in the region. Besides MSC Orchestra and MSC Sinfonia, additional cruise ships from MSC Cruises had cruises canceled or itineraries adjusted. Impacted by changes were MSC Virtuosa, MSC Opera, MSC Splendida, MSC Musica, and MSC Armonia.
Other cruise lines have also been impacted, including Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Celestyal Cruises, Azamara, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Oceania Cruises, amongst others.
The cancelled cruises and the modified itineraries have had a lasting effect not only on those looking forward to a pleasurable cruise experience but also on the thousands of people working in the tourism industry, both supporting and supported by the cruise ships that typically sail to the region.