MSC Cruises has reached out to guests booked aboard the June 1, 2024 sailing of MSC Virtuosa to inform them that the cruises has been cancelled.
An alternative sailing has been offered – a shorter cruise aboard the same ship with a prorated refund – but little explanation has been given about why the longer original sailing is not moving forward.
The June 1, 2024 departure of MSC Virtuosa, a 14-night sailing, has been cancelled. The cruise was to have been a roundtrip voyage from Southampton, visiting ports in Norway, Iceland, and Ireland.
Instead, guests have the option to sail on the ship for a shorter, 12-night itinerary, also aboard MSC Virtuosa, departing Southampton two days later on June 3, 2024.
This new cruise will visit destinations in the Canary Islands, Spain, and Portugal before returning to Southampton on June 15, the same end date as the original cruise.
Guests who opt for the alternate sailing will receive a prorated refund for the two missing nights of the sailing.
Because the two itineraries are dramatically different, many booked guests may be disappointed at the change and could seek to rebook on a different ship or cruise line to visit Norway and Iceland rather than take the southern voyage.
For the rest of the summer 2024 season, the 181,541-gross ton MSC Virtuosa will continue to offer Northern European and Spain itineraries of varying lengths, with ports of call in Norway, Denmark, Belgium, France, Portugal, and more.
No detailed explanation has been given for the shortened cruise with an alternate option on the very same ship. According to the email sent to booked guests, the decision was made “due to necessary operational reasons.”
“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, and any disruption to your vacation,” the email read.
Because MSC Virtuosa is sailing immediately prior to the now-shortened cruise, it is unlikely that a dry dock or other extensive time out of service is planned, unless further sailings are cancelled. At this time, there is no notice of additional cancellations for the vessel.
The Meraviglia Plus-class vessel entered service May 2021 and is one of the newer, younger vessels in MSC Cruises’ fleet. It is possible, however, that a short dry dock may be planned for general maintenance and upgrades.
Another option could be a short chartered sailing, but it is not common for existing cruises to be simply shortened to accommodate a charter voyage – instead, a full-ship charter would generally take the place of a regular sailing. Still, it is a possibility.
The cruise could also have been adjusted due to port restrictions or projected crowding at destination ports on the original itinerary, which would not provide a satisfactory experience for guests. In this case, the cruise line may be seeking a better, more enjoyable cruise.
Guests have also reported that the ship may be sailing a short, 2-night sailing on the dates removed from the original itinerary, but this does not yet show as available for booking.
No matter what the reason for the adjustment, cancelling the sailing, rather than swapping the itinerary, may be the easier course of action, especially since the departure date has changed. Many guests already booked may not be interested in a southern sailing, and would choose to cancel or alter their vacation plans due to this change.
By offering the incentive of a prorated refund to rebook on the new itinerary, MSC Cruises is trying to give guests as much vacation planning flexibility as possible.
Because the now-cancelled, shortened cruise is 10 months away, interested guests still have plenty of time to modify their vacation plans.
If travelers want to remain on the sailing, they may need to adjust their pre-cruise plans either to change airfare dates or to plan for more time in Europe prior to setting sail.
If guests have already made any independent shore tour plans, they will need to contact those tour operators for cancellation, since MSC Virtuosa will not be visiting any of the original ports of call.
Of course, the packing essentials for the cruise will also be dramatically different. The average temperature in Norway in early June, for example, is 10 Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), while in the Canary Islands, the average temperature at the same time is 24 Celsius (74 degrees Fahrenheit). This will certainly necessitate a different wardrobe for the cruise!
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