(3:15 p.m.) -- This fall, MSC Cruises will sail its first Canada/New England cruises from New York -- and the Big Apple is likely to see a lot more of the Italian line in the future.
At a Q&A last week onboard MSC Poesia -- which stopped in New York for the day during a repositioning cruise back to Europe after a six-month stint in the Caribbean -- MSC Cruises USA president Rick Sasso told a crowd of travel agents and journalists that the move to sail from New York took five years of planning and strategizing. And in another five years, MSC expects to have a year-round presence in North America, with New York as its second homeport (after Fort Lauderdale).
Until now, MSC Poesia has wintered in the Caribbean -- and like the other 10 ships in the cruise line's fleet -- spent the majority of its time in Europe. But on September 22, 2010, MSC Poesia will return to New York (it will be in the Mediterranean during the summer months) for a series of 7- to 19-night cruises to Quebec City before returning to the Caribbean. Itineraries feature calls throughout the picturesque areas of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New England. Several of the cruises even feature overnights in Quebec and scenic cruising of the St. Lawrence River.
As for the future, Sasso says each year will feature more turnarounds in New York. The goal, he says, is to bring back to New York "the lost art of cruising" -- which he describes as a focus on passengers, service and "quiet" ships (MSC is known for having very few shipboard announcements). And, as new ships are built, MSC will strategically expand its presence in North America as a whole. Sasso assured the crowd that Bermuda cruises are also coming down the pike, though there are no specific details yet as to precisely when. Alaska is also being considered as a "someday" destination.
Having spent $7 billion on expansion in the past six years, MSC Cruises is rightly touted as the most modern fleet in the world, and as the line continues to grow, it will undoubtedly have more flexibility to reach additional destinations and to increase its presence worldwide.
For now, we've spotted several bargains for the fall season; check the Cruise Critic Deals page for the latest.
--by Shayne Rodriguez Thompson, Web Content Producer
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Italian Cruise Line Sets Sights on Big Apple
May 4, 2010