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A contrarian in South America, MSC Cruises boosts capacity there in 2017/18

Rio de Janeiro - home to MSC Musica for five sailings in the 2017/18 season (Photo: MSC Cruises)
At a time when many cruise operators are reducing or exiting South America cabotage cruising, MSC Cruises will increase its commitment. The line will go from three ships in the 2016/17 season to four in 2017/18. They'll sail from Santos, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

MSC Preziosa, MSC Magnifica, MSC Musica and MSC Poesia are booked for the November 2017 to March 2018 season. That compares to 2016/17's three-ship, December to March deployment.

Brazil's economy has declined sharply since the years when 22 cruise ships operated in the region, and lines have consistently talked about the high costs, regulatory and infrastructure challenges.

But MSC Cruises is heavily invested in Brazil and Argentina, with established offices and a high-profile presence.

'We're a significant player,' a senior MSC official recently told Seatrade Cruise News. 'We're entrenched there and doing very well.'

In 2016/17, MSC Preziosa will cover the northern Brazil area with seven-night round-trips from Santos to Buzios, Ilheus, Salvador de Bahia and Ilha Grande (Angra dos Reis). Ten departures are planned from Decenber to early March.

Also sailing from Santos on weeklong cruises, MSC Musica will visit Uruguay and Argentina, with calls at Punta del Este, Buenos Aires and Montevideo. There are 10 departures between December and March.

Cruising round-trip Buenos Aires, MSC Orchestra will visit Punta del Este, Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Buzios and Ilhabela. This nine-night itinerary is available on six dates in 2017, from January to March.

For the 2017/18 austral summer MSC Preziosa returns to Santos for the same itinerary as the prior season, with nine departures from December to March.

From Santos, MSC Magnifica will sail a seven-night round-trip to Punta del Este and Montevideo on Dec. 17, 2017. An eight-night round-trip on Dec. 30 adds Buenos Aires. Then the ship settles into weeklong round-trips to Montevideo and Punta del Este, with six departures in January and February 2018.

From Rio de Janeiro, MSC Musica will sail eight-night round-trips to Buenos Aires, Punta del Este and Ilhabela. Five departures are available from early December to mid-February.  

MSC Poesia, based in Buenos Aires, has four departures of eight-night cruises to Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro, Ilhabela and Punta del Este. Nine-night round-trips, offered on four dates, add Cabo Frio and Ilha Grande. MSC Poesia's sailings stretch from late November through March.