Citing continued focus on modernizing its fleet, MSC Cruises has announced the sale of its 764-passenger, 16,852-ton MSC Rhapsody -- the smallest and oldest ship in its fleet. A spokesperson from MSC tells Cruise Critic that the 1977-built ship has been sold to an Israeli operator, but could not confirm the name of the company.
MSC Rhapsody, which was marketed almost exclusively to Europeans, officially stopped sailing for the Italy-based line at the end of March.
It's important to note that the decision to phase out the ship was not made abruptly (particularly in light of Hebridean's recent, sudden sale of Hebridean Spirit due to economic pressures). In fact, according to an MSC spokeswoman, European passengers weren't affected by the sale as cruises were never sold in that market beyond the final March voyage.
A handful of U.S. passengers did book cruises beyond the sale date, and they have been helped on a case-by-case basis to make alternative cruise reservations.
Next to the largest and most innovative vessels in the MSC fleet -- like the 133,500-ton, 3,300-passenger MSC Fantasia, which debuted in December 2008, and sister ship MSC Splendida, which will launch in July -- MSC Rhapsody appeared ancient, with its absence of balconies and outdoor movie screens.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor
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MSC Cruises Sells Rhapsody, Its Oldest Ship
April 9, 2009