MSC Reroutes World Cruise to Avoid Red Sea
MSC Cruises celebrated the start of the company’s epic yearly world cruise today but announced to passengers that the ship will be having to make a big detour due to the security problems in the Red Sea. While much of the attention has been focused on the big container carriers, including MSC, on rerouting their giant boxships, other segments including cruise have also been dealing with the security challenges.
The cruise ship MSC Poesia (92,627 gross tons) departed Geona, Italy today at the start of its 121-day cruise. The security problems however are leaving the ship with a convoluted itinerary while sales manager Gianni Pilato emphasizes that they will still make the majority of the stops. MSC has overall also been able to maintain its cruise programs in the Middle East this winter.
The ship had been scheduled to make stops in the Mediterranean before transiting the Suez Canal and traveling the East Coast of Africa sailing westward. The itinerary called for a circle of the Atlantic traveling around Africa, crossing to South America, and working through the Caribbean to the U.S. East Coast and Canada before returning to Northern Europe, where the cruise ends in Germany.
“The safety of passengers and crew is in the first place for our company, so we necessarily had to make changes to avoid the passage in the Red Sea,” Pilato told the Italian media outlet ANSA. He noted however that, “Luckily, unliked fixed tourist structures, the ship can modify the itineraries at will.”
Calls in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia had to be eliminated as the cruise ship travels west out of the Mediterranean and south along the west coast of Africa. The itinerary now calls for the ship sailing the Cape of Good Hope and north along the African east coast to make it north to its planned call in Kenya in February. The cruise then loops back in the Indian Ocean making planned stops before transiting the Cape of Good Hope and resuming the route of the original itinerary.
Security concerns forced the MSC Poesia to alter its itinerary to avoid the Red Sea in 2024 (MSC)
MSC reports that 2,300 passengers were boarding the cruise today at the start of the trip which will visit 50 destinations in 31 countries. The passengers are reported to be mostly Italian, French, German, American, and Chinese, but there is a total of 57 different nationalities aboard the ship. The 964-foot cruise ship, which was introduced in 2008, has 1,275 passenger cabins with a maximum capacity of over 3,200 passengers with a complement of over 1,000 crewmembers. MSC offers segments of the cruise as well.
Most cruises, including other world cruises, are not currently due to transit the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. Cruises had repositioned to the Middle East before the security situation deteriorated, or in the case of Costa Cruises, its world cruise which sails from Trieste tomorrow, January 6, was already scheduled to follow a westbound itinerary. The Costa Deliziosa (92,700 gross tons) will be embarking over 2,000 passengers from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Austria for its 134-day trip. Costa’s cruise visits five continents including a Panama Canal transit and westward through the Pacific. The cruise however is scheduled to travel in the spring to Oman and Jordan as it returns to Italy. No changes have been announced so far to the itinerary.
MSC however also had to reschedule a cruise scheduled for a Red Sea cruise. Pilato said the cruise was to have been a 7-day Red Sea itinerary which they altered. Most cruise ships operating in the Middle East however are based in Dubai at this time of the year.
One cruise ship, Royal Caribbean Group’s Silver Moon (40,700 gross tons) marketed by Silversea Cruises however has been drawing attention. The ship is currently repositioning through the Red Sea. The cruise starts tomorrow, January 6, in Jordan and continues through the Red Sea and Bab el-Mandeb to Muscat. Needless to say, a lot of passengers were questioning the plans as the ship traveled south transiting the Suez Canal on December 31. The cruise line was letting people switch to alternate cruises if they were not comfortable with the itinerary.