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MSC Cruises seeing double in Doha...with a third ship en route

MSC Poesia berthed in front of MSC World Europa at Doha's Grand Terminal
MSC World Europa and MSC Poesia are berthed bow to aft in Doha alongside the port’s new Grand Cruise Terminal, acting as overflow accommodation for football fans during the World Cup which starts Sunday.

The two ships will accommodate up to 4,000 fans.

MSC Group executive chair Pierfrancesco Vago said the company picked Qatar for the naming of MSC World Europa last weekend in order to maintain the focus on Qatar, not just prior to and during the World Cup, but beyond having partnered with Qatar Airways to bring international guests from around the world to join the ship during the tournament but also for the ship's upcoming winter season.

Qatar Airways

Vago cited the carrier agreement  struck with Qatar Airways,  ‘as a perfect example of a local partnership  tied into growing both our own business and that of the airline.’

Qatar Airways offers routes to 150 countries worldwide, including US and Australia.

Dammam debut

Post the football tournament, MSC World Europa will remain homeported in Doha for winter 2022/23 offering seven night Middle East Gulf sailings calling at UAE ports of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas and Dammam in Saudi Arabia – a first for MSC on sailings in the Arabian Gulf.

‘We will offer 15 shorex in Dammam during a 10-hour stay offering a different cultural experience from UAE and Qatar,’ noted MSC Cruises president Gianni Onorato.

Red Sea synergy

MSC Cruises has enriched MSC Splendida’s seven-night winter itinerary in the Red Sea to include Cairo in Egypt plus there are now three embarkation ports for passengers to choose from: Sokhna Port and Safaga in Egypt, and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

The vessel also calls Aqaba for Petra, Jordan and Yanbu in Saudi Arabia as part of the programme.

Onorato sees synergies between the itineraries out of Doha and those out of Jeddah on Saudi’s Red Sea coastline. ‘In fact I was talking with Australian travel agents onboard for the naming of World Europa about the possibilities of long haul passengers first enjoying a week long cruise in the Gulf before flying  to Jeddah  to join the seven day Red Sea sailings which is a completely different experience with calls in Jordan and Egypt too,’ he told Seatrade.

Opera arriving

MSC Opera is also headed for Doha Port due to arrive Friday and will also act as floating accommodation from November 19 through to December 19. Unlike the first two ships which are chartered by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy as floating hotels, MSC Cruises is selling Opera on its own account or through preferred travel agents.

MSC Opera will accommodate up to a further 1,075 guests.

Vago said the first two ships are fully sold out for the first two weeks of the tournament, with Opera ‘getting there’.