HAVANA.- Displacing in excess of 59,000 tons and carrying 2,600 passengers of European origin, the MSC Opera cruise ship arrived last December in Cuba.

The 251.25m long, 28.80m wide and 6.60m draft dimensions of the ship that berthed in Havana Bay’s Terminal 1 on December 19, aroused great amongst residents in the Capital.

Displacing in excess of 59,000 tons and carrying 2,600 passengers of European origin, the MSC Opera cruise ship arrived last December in Cuba.Powered by four engines that can cruise at a speed of 21 knots, the vessel forms part of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Cruises S.A fleet, that now includes Cuba in their tourist destination options.

MSC is one of the worlds four largest companies of it’s kind, operating 12 such ships that carry 1,700,000 passengers each year.

Company executive, Gianni Onorrato, said that he was very happy, thanks in no small part to the support of Cuban authorities, to see this long held dream come true.

The ship, which arrived in Cuba after a 22 day voyage from Italy is the largest to have docked in Cuba to date.

Onorrato said that the vessel will have docked in Havana Bay 16 times by April next, a frequency that will permit her tourists to relish the culture, traditions and above all else, the people of Cuba.

He added that following their ocean cruise, passengers stay in Havana from Tuesday to Thursday and return on MSC chartered flights Italy, France, Germany and Spain.

According to the official, there is great interest in visiting and getting to know Cuba and that passengers –primarily Italians, Germans, Spaniards, French, and British -- had initially boarded in Genoa (Italy), Barcelona (Spain) and Marseilles (France).

MSC hope in the future to promote a cruise for Canadian, Mexican, Argentine and Brazilian clients that, in addition to Havana, will take in Cozumel in Mexico, Gran Cayman and Montego Bay in Jamaica.

The Italian-Swiss family owned cruise ship company caters to clients from more that 140 countries worldwide and has plans to add 7 modern new vessels to it’s fleet over the coming 6 years.

This increase would mean that MSC, (formerly associated with Flotta Lauro Lines, 1970) founded in 1987 could increase capacity to 3.4 million passengers per year, becoming the second largest such sea going operation with 17% of the global market.

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