Italian cruise line MSC Cruises will position its first ship in North America year-round, beginning this fall.
The not quite year-old, 3,502-passenger MSC Divina will offer year-round Caribbean cruises out of Miami starting in November.
The Italian cruise line has long been talking about basing a cruise ship year-round in the USA. For the last eight years, MSC has offered seasonal late fall and winter sailings from North America. It says it made the decision to finally commit to an extended presence here based on the "requests of the travel agency community and consumers for a year-round presence in the North American market."
MSC made the announcement during the naming ceremony for the line's twelfth ship, the MSC Preziosa, in Genoa, Italy, this past Saturday. The Preziosa is sister ship to the Divina.
MSC has built 10 new cruise ships since 2003, with about one new vessel entering its fleet every year, the cruise industry's most aggressive expansion program.
PHOTO GALLERY: Tour the MSC Fantasia
MSC said the Divina's itineraries would be announced shortly. The vessel, named by film star Sophia Loren, has seven restaurants, 18 bars and lounges, five swimming pools, a bowling alley and MSC's ship-within-a-ship, the MSC Yacht Club, a luxury section of the vessel offering 69 suites with butler and concierge service, complimentary select beverages, private access to spa and a private dining room.
This item was written by Johanna Jainchill, who covers the travel industry for Travel Weekly. Jainchill is serving as Guest Editor of The Cruise Log while USA TODAY Cruise Editor Gene Sloan is away.