Courtesy: Aaron Saunders | News Source:

In a first for MSC Cruises, the line will homeport at Port Tampa Bay, basing MSC Armonia there for year-round sailings beginning in late 2020.

For its winter 2020-2021 season, the ship will primarily sail four- and five-night voyages to the Western Caribbean, including Key West, Cozumel, Costa Maya, Progreso and Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises' new private island in the Bahamas.

MSC Armonia will also sprinkle in several weeklong sailings during the winter holidays. The ship will transition to offer primarily weeklong cruises between May and November 2021.

These itineraries mark the first time MSC Cruises has homeported a ship in Tampa, and the first time the line has offered port calls in Progreso, gateway to the historic ruins at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Chichén-Itza and Uxmal.

"As MSC Cruises expands its presence in the U.S., the introduction of Tampa as a homeport plays an important role in our long-term deployment strategy for this region," said Ken Muskat, EVP and Chief Operating Officer of MSC Cruises USA. "We've seen increased demand for cruise options from Tampa as vacationers from around the world look to explore the city and surrounding areas pre- and post-cruise." 

Currently based in Miami, MSC Armonia is one of MSC's more intimate ships, offering a classic cruise experience on a vessel that holds approximately 2,000 passengers at double-occupancy. Characterized by bright, window-lined public rooms and a laid-back onboard atmosphere, the ship is slated to undergo a refurbishment during its November 2019 dry dock.

Upon the ship's arrival in Tampa in November of next year, MSC intends to expand onboard entertainment options further, with increased on-deck activities that range from dance classes to evening parties. New full-scale production shows will be offered each evening in the ship's main theater, and live music will be available throughout the day around the ship, along with a new sailaway deck party to kick off each cruise.

MSC says it will also expand MSC Armonia's dining options on voyages from Tampa, including an all-day breakfast station, a daily happy hour hosted in the Lions Pub and more American favorites mixed with the Mediterranean dishes for which the line is known.

MSC becomes the latest cruise line to homeport a ship in Tampa. Celebrity Constellation will also be based there beginning in November 2020.