During MSC Cruises’ mid-August period, in 2023, a dozen of the corporation’s vessels docked at Italian ports, handing around 250,000 guests in total, a new record for the company and a boon to local economies in some of the world’s most iconic destinations.

Overall, 12 vessels from the privately-owned MSC Cruises’ fleet, which is just over half of the entire fleet of 22 ships, set out on Mediterranean voyages during the mid-August cruising season in 2023, with a particular focus placed on Italy.

All in all, 63 ports of call and 15 distinct Italian harbors saw 250,000 cruise guests reserve passage with MSC Cruises — adding approximately 25 million euros ($27.1 million USD) to local economies from taxes, fees, retail spending, tour operations, and more.

Leonardo Massa, Managing Director of MSC Cruises stated that this record number of passengers in August “is the result of the growth of our fleet.” Massa also noted the local popularity of MSC Cruises, saying “Also for next autumn and winter Italians are choosing our cruises that set sail towards the tourist destinations of the Mediterranean, which are therefore confirmed as attractive not only in the warm periods but throughout the year.”

MSC Magnifica in Bari, Italy (Photo Credit: ODIN Daniel / Shutterstock)

This record number of passengers in August alone marks a new pinnacle for the company. According to MSC Cruises, the Italian cities that had the most to gain from an increase in tourist-related revenue — thanks to these 12 vessels and 63 port visits — include Bari, Civitavecchia, Genoa, Naples, and Palermo.

MSC Cruises expects this increase in bookings to continue well into the fall and winter. Part of the reason for this good financial news stems from the fact that the company’s fleet has been extended to 22 ships in total with the addition of MSC Euribia in May.

Apart from Bari, Civitavecchia, Genoa, Naples, and Palermo, MSC Cruises offers a variety of other Italian ports both to visit as well as to set sail from. 

Some of these Italian-based destinations and embarkation points include Ancona (Urbino), Brindisi (Lecce), Cagliari (Sardinia), La Spezia (Cinque Terre), Venice, and more. The cruise line’s current Italian homeports include Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, as well as Monfalcone/Venice.

MSC Cruises in Venice (Photo Credit: Don Mammoser / Shutterstock)

MSC Cruises’ Italian ports offer travelers a fantastic opportunity to explore some of the most culturally rich and historically significant destinations in the entire Mediterranean, with loads of UNESCO world heritage sites to visit. 

With a great variety of Italian destinations to choose from, travelers can expect amazing sights and opportunities on every Italian MSC Cruises sailing.

Locations like Bari, the capital of the Puglia in the south, will offer guests sites like the remarkable Basilica of Saint Nicholas, known for its Romanesque beauty and charm. Wander through the Old Town (Bari Vecchia) to become immersed in local life and the vibe of its alleyways. For a glimpse into history, visit the Castello Svevo, a medieval castle offering captivating sea views.

A destination like Naples, with the preserved wonders of Pompeii and Herculaneum frozen in time by Mount Vesuvius, is perfect for cruise ship guests. Dive into history at the Naples National Archaeological Museum, home to artifacts from both of these cities. Take a leisurely stroll along the Naples Waterfront (Lungomare) and relish the views of the bay and the looming Vesuvius.

In Palermo, the Palermo Cathedral is a mesmerizing blend of architectural styles, featuring the impressive Royal Tombs. The Palazzo dei Normanni showcases a mesmerizing Norman-Arab-Byzantine masterpiece.

MSC Cruises in La Spezia (Photo Credit: fritschk / Shutterstock)

When visiting the Adriatic port of Ancona, guests will discover the UNESCO site of Urbino, a walled city known for its Renaissance architecture and being the birthplace of Raphael. 

In La Spezia, cruise travelers can traverse the five villages of Cinque Terre, which offer coastal vistas and hiking trails with breathtaking views. Be sure to sample the local cuisine, including seafood and Ligurian specialties. 

In Venice, a cruise ship staple (albeit with recent controversies), travelers can admire the intricate architecture of St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, float through the Venetian Canals on a gondola, and explore the lavish Doge’s Palace with its famous Bridge of Sighs over the Rio di Palazzo.

The cultural, historical, and natural attractions of these Italian ports — and nearby destinations — are some of the many reasons why MSC Cruises has focused so much of its fleet in these waters during 2023. Italy has been a huge tourist draw for centuries, and that trend doesn’t seem to be abating.

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