After sailing its biggest ever Middle East cruise season during 2022/23 out of Dubai, MSC Cruises has confirmed that MSC Opera will once more be deployed to the region, while MSC World Europa will be replaced with MSC Virtuosa.
MSC Cruises doubled up in Dubai for the current season, which runs from November, 2022 to March, 2023, with MSC Opera and MSC World Europa both homeporting in Dubai and sailing week-long roundtrip itineraries in the Arabian Gulf.
MSC World Europa is the largest cruise ship in the fleet, the second-largest class of ship in the world, and is currently the largest ever to homeport in Dubai.
While MSC Virtuosa is slightly smaller, she’s still one of the largest in the world and a major demonstration by MSC Cruises of its confidence in the Middle East cruise market, which has seen extraordinary growth in the last few years, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
MSC currently homeports in both the UAE (in Dubai and Abu Dhabi), and Saudi Arabia (in Jeddah). MSC Orchestra has been confirmed for the 2023/24 cruise season out of Jeddah, replacing MSC Splendida, which is currently sailing from the city until April next year.
MSC Opera’s 2023/24 Dubai cruise season
MSC Opera will arrive in Dubai in November, 2023, after completing a 20-night repositioning voyage from Genoa through the Mediterranean, along the Suez Canal and down the Red Sea, stopping at ports in Egypy and Saudi Arabia along the way.
She’ll sail her first roundtrip Dubai cruise of the 2023/24 season on November 19th. These 7-night itineraries sailing from Dubai to Dubai visit Khasab and Muscat in Oman, as well as the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi, and its exclusive cruise destination island Sir Bani Yas.
Some of the itineraries switch out Khasab for Fujairah, but all are 7 days in length. She’ll sail these itineraries until April 21st, 2024, when she’ll depart Dubai for Civitavecchia (Rome), with the 20-night voyage retracing her steps back through the Red Sea and Mediterranean.
MSC Opera is around a third the size of MSC World Europa in terms of gross tonnage, and carries just 2,150 passengers at double occupancy, but there’s still plenty passengers will find onboard to keep themselves entertained.
There are four restaurants, including a pizzeria, 8 bars and cafes, including an elegant piano bar, and 2 pools with 2 whirlpools up on the top deck. As a result of her major refit in 2014-2015, the ship also has a Dormey spray park up here.
There are dedicated facilities for babies, toddlers, children and teens, including a virtual games arcade, and for the adults there are four lounges, a casino, spa, gym, nightclub and even a shopping area.
MSC Virtuosa’s 2023/24 Dubai cruise season
MSC Virtuosa will sail her first roundtrip cruise of the season from Dubai on December 2nd, 2023. These 7-night Dubai to Dubai cruises will depart every Saturday from Dubai Cruise Terminal in Port Rashid until March 30th, 2024, when she’ll depart on a 30-night repositioning cruise to Southampton.
Each voyage sails from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to the nation’s capital, Abu Dhabi, and then overnight to the offshore island of Sir Bani Yas, where passengers will find a dedicated cruise beach and game safari park.
The next port of call will be Dammam, in Saudi Arabia, followed by an overnight cruise to Doha, Qatar and the back to Dubai, where the ship spends the final night of the cruise in port.
MSC Virtuosa can accommodate about 6,500 passengers and features more than 30 restaurants and bars, a shopping mall and entertainment facilities across 19 decks.
Her 1,000-seat theatre is home to Broadway-style productions every night, the MSC Aurea Spa is the largest in the fleet, the Tropical Pool has a retractable glass roof for swimming in any weather, the Savannah Aquapark is one of the largest at sea, and the Horizon Pool offers amphitheatre-style seating and in-water loungers.
There’s also a Himalayan Ropes course with obstacles dangling about 80 metres above the ocean, an F1 race car simulator, a bowling alley, a large retail area and countless other amenities. The ship was named in Dubai when she was delivered to the cruise line in 2021.