On November 1st, the magnificent MSC Opera will embark on a southbound voyage to South Africa, where she will begin her first ever summer season in the region in style, by hosting two glamorous on-board events in Cape Town and Durban, writes Ingrid N Roding-Tudor.
MSC Opera will leave Venice, Italy, setting off on a 20-night cruise from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Atlantic Ocean and down the west coast of Africa to the South Atlantic Ocean. During this grand voyage guests will enjoy calls at Valletta in Malta, Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Casablanca and Agadir in Morocco, Dakar in Senegal and Walvis Bay in Namibia, before arriving in Cape Town on 20 November 2012.
To mark the luxury cruise ship’s maiden call in Cape Town, MSC Cruises is hosting a special charity event in aid of abandoned and abused children. Proceeds from tickets to the event and its action-packed auction will go to the Ukuthemba Foundation*, a local organization providing safe and loving home environments for orphans and neglected and abused children.
Following the Ukuthemba event, MSC Opera will set sail for her new homeport in Durban, where she will host an exclusive party on 23 November for media, VIPs and travel industry representatives in celebration of her arrival.
MSC Opera then has a full schedule of three and four night cruises, operating out of Durban from 24 November 2012 until early March 2013. She will take over the popular cruises to Maputo, Portuguese Island and Barra Lodge in Mozambique from sister ship MSC Sinfonia, who will in turn replace the smaller MSC Melody, allowing guests from the Cape Town region to experience a totally new product from their own home port.
MSC Opera is slightly larger than her sister ship MSC Sinfonia and can accommodate over 1,700 guests. South African cruise lovers are eagerly awaiting her first call in the region and the new elegance she will bring, with her glamorous décor and public areas enhanced by a sweeping marble reception area and magnificent open spaces with glass walls for spectacular ocean views sure to please local cruisers.
“The operation of both MSC Opera and MSC Sinfonia for the 2012/13 South African cruise season will enable a total of 135,000 passengers to experience Mediterranean style MSC hospitality over the course of the season,” said Allan Foggitt of MSC Starlight Cruises. “This will set a new record for local cruising, surpassing the previous record by nearly 25,000 passengers.”
In addition to the change in vessels, the ever popular Christmas Cruise itinerary has also been modified slightly and will now sail to Portuguese Island and then on to the tiny beach village of Anakoa in Madagascar. The 11-night festive New Year Cruise will now include the celebration of New Year’s Eve under La Reunion skies and a call in Mauritius on New Year’s Day, where MSC Opera will remain in port for 3 nights.
Towards the end of the season, MSC Opera’s itineraries will include Port Elizabeth and she will also sail a small number of cruises out of Cape Town to Mossel Bay, Walvis Bay, and Luderitz before leaving South African shores for the European summer.
MSC Opera has 856 cabins of which 172 are balcony cabins and 28 are balcony suites. The ship has four restaurants, eleven bars, two pools, and two whirlpools and boasts the sumptuous MSC Aurea Spa, a disco, video games room, internet café, casino, team building facilities and a medical centre. The ship has a wonderful array of duty free shopping and caters for kids with the Buffalo Bill children’s play area, special dining options for children and families, and four different kids clubs. Additional facilities include the Cotton Club bar and a stage on deck for outdoor entertainment.
*Ukuthemba Foundation provides a permanent solution for orphaned and abandoned children in South Africa. Moving away from large orphanages where children are often neglected and abused, Ukuthemba concentrates on creating a small family nucleus of 6 children with a house mother. This alternative approach to housing children provides a home-like environment where they can be nurtured, attend local schools and be integrated into society, with the emphasis being on love, education and protection. Those in need receive medical care from nurses and all of them have the opportunity to be educated. Ukuthemba has two homes which have been running extremely successfully since inception in January 2008 with a third home due to open in the last quarter of 2012.