None of the U.S.-based contemporary cruise lines, such as Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International or Norwegian Cruise Line, offer a 119-day cruise like MSC’s.
However, Costa Cruises, which competes closely with MSC in the Mediterranean, does offer a world cruise in 2017 on the 92,700-gross-ton Costa Luminosa, which carries about the same number of passengers as the 95,128-gross-ton Magnifica.
Roberto Fusaro, president of MSC Cruises North America, said the Magnifica was picked for the world cruise because it is the right size for the ports included on the itinerary.
“The pool has a magrodome — making the ship ideal for all weather — and the ship has a high proportion of balcony staterooms,” he said.
Fusaro said adding a world cruise will help MSC gain attention.
“We’ve already heard a ton of buzz and excitement from our travel agent partners,” he said. Clients like the wide range of activities and entertainment and multiple dining options a ship the size of the MSC Magnifica affords, he said.
Another feature that might help MSC fill the Magnifica is a relatively low price. MSC lists a lead-in price for the cruise of $16,999. A 120-day cruise on Cunard Line’s 2,014-passenger Queen Elizabeth departing in January has a starting price of $19,998. MSC’s price also includes 15 shore excursions.
The 7-year-old MSC Magnifica is scheduled to set off from Genoa, Italy, on Jan. 5, 2019, and sail west until it arrives back in Genoa 119 days later.
Along the way it will stop at 49 destinations in 32 countries and stay four days in French Polynesia, three days in both Hawaii and San Francisco and two days in Los Angeles.
Following a week in the Mediterranean, the Magnifica will spend five days at sea before reaching the Caribbean in mid-January. It will transit the Panama Canal on Jan. 25 and proceed up the coast of Central America, Mexico and north to San Francisco.
The next month will be spent crossing the Pacific with stops in Hawaii, French Polynesia and Fiji before arriving in New Zealand in mid-March. Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the Maldives precede an April 15 arrival in Dubai. The ship transits the Suez Canal in late April to arrive back in Genoa on May 3.
MSC and its predecessor company, Lauro Lines, have been in the cruise business since 1960, but had never entered the world-cruise derby.
“As one of the world’s truly international cruise companies, making available to our guests and travelers from around the globe a product such as a world cruise is a natural progression,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO MSC Cruises.