MSC Armonia to Homeport in Tampa

MSC Armonia

MSC Cruises announced it is sending the Armonia to homeport in Tampa for the 2020-2021 cruise season, adding a key new homeport to the company’s arsenal.

Starting Nov. 11, 2020, MSC Armonia will begin sailing from Tampa to the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas year-round, with a full Winter season (Nov. 2020 – April 2021) of four- to five-night short cruises followed by a Summer season (May 2021-Nov. 2021) of week-long cruise options.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, said: “The introduction of Tampa as a homeport is another important milestone as we continue to grow our presence and profile in North America to meet the growing demand for our product.

“MSC Armonia’s short cruises will be perfect for the first time U.S. guests to experience our European heritage and I’m sure that our seven-night product will appeal greatly to families.  With every sailing from Tampa including our exclusive Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve private island, all of the ship’s itineraries should also be extremely attractive for large U.S. groups and charters.”

“As MSC Cruises expands its presence in the U.S., the introduction of Tampa as a homeport plays an important role in our long-term deployment strategy for this region,” added Ken Muskat, EVP and Chief Operating Officer of MSC Cruises USA. “We’ve seen increased demand for cruise options from Tampa as vacationers from around the world look to explore the city and surrounding areas pre- and post-cruise. We’re looking forward to bringing MSC Armonia, one of our more classic and charming ships, to Tampa and to introducing even more travellers to the MSC Cruises experience, inspired by our European heritage.”

“We are thrilled that MSC Cruises will be offering year-round cruises from Port Tampa Bay next year,” said Paul Anderson, President and CEO of Port Tampa Bay. “MSC Cruises offers an enriching and immersive cruise experience, bringing together people from around the world. Tampa is also known for the unique experiences the city offers its residents and visitors, appealing to a diverse mix of nationalities and cultures. We couldn’t be more excited for MSC Armonia’s new home to be Port Tampa Bay.”

For the Winter 2020-2021 season, MSC Armonia will offer a variety of four- and five-night sailings, visiting destinations such as Key West; Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Progreso, Mexico; and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

“With a range of itineraries, including short cruise options, MSC Armonia’s itineraries from Tampa are ideal for groups, including family reunions, meetings, incentives and corporate events, as well as charters,” said Muskat. “In addition, the four- and five-night options are a great opportunity for someone who has never cruised before to try cruising as a vacation option or if they are new to MSC Cruises to check out one of our ships for the first time.”

Following its inaugural season in Tampa, MSC Armonia will then transition to 7-night sailings from May through Nov. 2021, with stops at Key West; Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve; Cozumel, Mexico; and Progreso, Mexico. Prices start at $299 per person.

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MSC Group joins international Bahamas hurricane relief effort

Image result for MSC seaside

The vast container shipping conglomerate behind MSC Cruises is to provide temporary shelters to people left homeless due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian.

MSC Group’s initial efforts will focus on semi-permanent prefabricated modular housing in the areas most affected by the hurricane as well as making ships available for cargo from the US to the Freeport and Marsh Harbour container terminals.

The operation will involve its cargo shipping, cruising and its charitable foundation.

The latest aid initiative came as the death toll from Hurricane Dorian rose to 23 with fears that numbers could rise at least into the hundreds given the number of people missing across the island nation.

An estimated 76,000 people have been left in need of food and shelter with the International Red Cross estimating that 45% of homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos – some 13,000 properties – were severely damaged or destroyed.

Dorian hit the Bahamas as a category 5 hurricane with winds reaching 185mph, matching the highest ever recorded at landfall, and stayed over affected areas for two days.

A fleet of ships from various cruise lines has been deployed on aid missions to the islands.

Royal Caribbean ships are to be re-deployed over the next few weeks to tender outside of Freeport, the Bahamas carrying goods and meals. This operation began with Empress of the Seas delivering 10,000 meals and 10,000 bottles of water.

The company is also sending container ships with emergency supplies including 47,000 bottles of water, 362 generators, 250 tarpaulins, 25,000 square feet of plywood, 55,400 nappies and 7,500 pounds of pet food.

Carnival Cruise Line is to divert the ships Carnival Pride and Carnival Liberty next week to deliver food, water and relief supplies in addition to an agreement to run shipments of aid by container ship.

Image result for carnival pride

The latest aid initiative came as the death toll from Hurricane Dorian rose to 23 with fears that numbers could rise at least into the hundreds given the number of people missing across the island nation.

An estimated 76,000 people have been left in need of food and shelter with the International Red Cross estimating that 45% of homes on Grand Bahama and the Abacos – some 13,000 properties – were severely damaged or destroyed.

Dorian hit the Bahamas as a category 5 hurricane with winds reaching 185mph, matching the highest ever recorded at landfall, and stayed over affected areas for two days.

A fleet of ships from various cruise lines has been deployed on aid missions to the islands.

Royal Caribbean ships are to be re-deployed over the next few weeks to tender outside of Freeport, the Bahamas carrying goods and meals. This operation began with Empress of the Seas delivering 10,000 meals and 10,000 bottles of water.

The company is also sending container ships with emergency supplies including 47,000 bottles of water, 362 generators, 250 tarpaulins, 25,000 square feet of plywood, 55,400 nappies and 7,500 pounds of pet food.

Carnival Cruise Line is to divert the ships Carnival Pride and Carnival Liberty next week to deliver food, water and relief supplies in addition to an agreement to run shipments of aid by container ship.

Sandals Resorts International has responded with help through its SRI Foundation.

Deputy chairman Adam Stewart said: “All three of the Sandals properties in the Bahamas have been unaffected which gives us the opportunity to focus on recovery and assisting however we can.

“We are proud to be working with the government of Jamaica and the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre to help our neighbouring island of the Bahamas who parts of which were badly affects by hurricane Dorian.

“The foundation, through the efforts of those who have supported us thus far, donated $10,000 worth of water, as a first gesture to those in Abaco, through our partner the Bahamian non-profit group HeadKnowles. A partner of Sandals has also donated $100,000 worth of cleaning material which we will also be collecting in the next 48 hours.”

MSC Group through its MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has been present in the region for 20 years as the leading cargo import and export operator in the Bahamas. Its local headquarters are based in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Gianluigi Aponte, executive chairman and founder of MSC Group, said: “It is heartbreaking to see the impact and devastation that Hurricane Dorian has brought over the Bahamas and its population. The thoughts and prayers of my entire family are with the people of the Bahamas and their families and loved ones.

Image result for MSC cargo ship

“As a family company and one that has lived off the sea for over 300 years, we are fully committed to supporting both immediate and longer-term relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas.

“Our businesses have long been closely tied to the Bahamas and its people, with a rich history spanning over many decades. We now look forward to supporting their efforts to rebuild and recover in every way we can and through all our businesses.”

Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy said: “The devastation of the Bahamsa is truly tragic and heartbreaking and we are keeping them in our thoughts as we continue to offer our support and assistance.”

The US states of North and South Carolina are at risk of dangerous storm surges today before the hurricane moves towards Nova Scotia at the weekend.

Norwegian Alters Cuba Itineraries, Quantifies Financial Impact

Norwegian Cruise Line ship in Havana
Norwegian Sky cruise ship in Havana Cuba. (Photo by Brian Major).