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Veterans Day salute caps MSC Divina's US return

Rick Sasso takes part in military-style cake-cutting with a sword (Photo: MSC Cruises)
With the return of MSC Divina to PortMiami on Wednesday, coinciding with Veterans Day, MSC Cruises USA hosted a salute to the men and women of the US armed forces.

'A top priority for MSC Cruises has been developing military-friendly discounts and policies to say thanks to our nation's troops, our veterans and their families for everything they do,' said Rick Sasso, president of MSC Cruises USA.

During the event, MSC Cruises presented the '2015 MSC Sea Side Salute Award' to individuals and companies making a positive impact in the lives of veterans in the categories of family, small business opportunities and community activism.

The honorees included the Torres Family for providing outstanding community military service and outreach. Sgt. Anthony Torres and his family are involved with Wounded Warrior Project, Mission Continues Platoon in South Florida and 'Combat Hippies.'

Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, and CruiseOne/Cruises Inc. were recognized for giving business opportunities to veterans. These travel firms provide franchise opportunities and incentive programs to enable veterans and their spouses to become business owners.

Jonathan Davidson was saluted for his outstanding community leadership and mentorship. After 25 years in marketing and advertising, this civilian changed careers to become the mentor coordinator for Mission United, helping veterans through the challenges of transitioning to civilian life.

Following the presentations, ceremony attendees watched MSC Divina prepare to sail from PortMiami under a shower of fireworks. The night included cruise giveaways and a cake-cutting with a sword, a military tradition.

MSC Divina passengers also were involved in the Veterans Day celebrations as they were invited to the top deck of the ship for a sail-away party with patriotic party favors including US flags and red, white and blue glow sticks.

Special guests at the MSC Cruises Sea Side Salute included US Coast Guard Rear Adm. Karl Schultz, director of operations for the United States Southern Command, and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. Top sponsors of the event included Travel Weekly, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. and Cruise Planners.

MSC Cruises USA's military-friendly discounts and policies make it a preferred cruise line for the military. All retired and active US and Canadian military personnel and their families qualify for a discount of 10% or more on balcony staterooms and their kids 11 and under sail free. In addition, this year the line implemented a new policy that provides a full cruise credit for a future sailing if a military member's travel plans change due to redeployment or revocation of leave.