MSC Cruises’ Largest Ever Ship to Be Based in UAE Next Winter

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It’s no surprise that MSC Cruises has been focused heavily on the United Arab Emirates and the wider Gulf Region. As part of that focus, and an intent to expand business opportunities further, the cruise line will be homeporting its newest vessel in the region. 

MSC World Europa is the first LNG-powered cruise ship for MSC and will be the biggest ship in the fleet. Besides World Europa, MSC has plans for an additional cruise ship to base in the region, MSC Opera, while MSC Virtuosa and MSC Bellisima are already sailing in the area.

MSC World Europa Homeports in Gulf Region

Sailing from Doha, Qatar from the end of the year, MSC World Europa will be the biggest ship to cruise in the Gulf Region. At 205,000 gross tons and with a stunning new design, the vessel can accommodate 6,762 guests in 2,626 cabins. 

The cruise ship is currently under construction at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. She is scheduled for delivery in October this year and will start operations in the Gulf Region in December. The vessel will first be chartered out for the FIFA World Cup Football in Doha, and her first cruise for paying guests sails on December 29.

MSC World Europa Cruise Ship
Rendering Courtesy: MSC Cruises

The LNG-powered vessel will sail from Doha, Qatar, have an overnight in Dubai, followed by calls to Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Jas Island. After a relaxing day at sea, guests will be able to visit Damman, Saudi Arabia, and take a tour to the Al Asha Oasis, a UNESCO Heritage site since 2018 and one of the world’s largest natural oases.

The plans for MSC World Europa were announced this week by MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato during the opening ceremony for a new jetty for passenger ships at Sir Bani Yas Island: 

“MSC World Europa will redefine the cruise experience with a variety of never-before-seen features unlike anything at sea today and the vessel will be an additional benefit to the UAE’s tourism industry.” 

“The ship will attract many international passengers from around the world, especially from Europe, and we hope to also see strong interest from guests from the Gulf Cooperation Council, especially the UAE.”

MSC Extends Focus On Middle East

With the deployment of MSC World Europa to the Persian Gulf, the company confirms its focus on the region. There is good reason for the expansion of vessels to the area. MSC Virtuosa is already operating cruises and has been one of the best performing ships for the company, MSC CEO Gianni Onorato:

“One of our newest ships MSC Virtuosa, is currently deployed in the Arabian Gulf and although there are challenges ashore associated with the global pandemic, we have worked closely with the relevant authorities throughout the region to ensure the health and safety of our passengers, crew and the communities that the ship visits.”

“The combination of onboard measures along with those ashore have been extemely effective, as demonstrated by the fact that MSC Viruosa is one of our best performing ships during the winter season.”

MSC Virtuosa in Dubai
Photo Courtesy: MSC Cruises

MSC Virtuosa will continue sailing in the region until March 26. MSC Bellissima, currently sailing from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will take over her cruises between April 2 and June 25. As mentioned before, MSC World Europa will be chartered out for the FIFA World Cup and start revenue cruises on December 29, 2022. 

MSC Opera will also sail on 7-night cruises, with a slightly different itinerary. Sailing from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, MSC Opera will call in Sir Bani Yas Island, and Muscat and Khasab in Oman. The cruise finishes with an overnight in Dubai. 

MSC World Europa is the first of four World-Class cruise ships. The sisters of World Europa are scheduled for delivery in 2024, 2025, and 2026. In total, MSC Cruises has ten cruise ships on order, which will bring the total size of the fleet to 29 ships. 

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