MSC Opera Completes 20 Years in Service

MSC Opera

The MSC Opera is completing 20 years of service for MSC Cruises this month. Built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, the 65,000-ton cruise ship was handed over to the company on May 23, 2004.

A sister to the 2003-built MSC Lirica, the vessel was the second ever to be built for MSC Cruises and entered service following a series of inaugural festivities across Europe.

After leaving Northern France, the 2,160-guest ship sailed to Barcelona in Spain and Marseille in France.

Once in Italy, it spent three days docked in Naples, where it served as the stage for a gala hosted by MSC Cruises in benefit of the Italian Association of Cancer Research.

The festivities continued in Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, where the Opera remained docked for two days before sailing to Genoa.

On June 26, 2004, the ship was finally named during a special ceremony in the city, which serves as one of MSC Cruises’ largest homeports in Europe.

Sophia Loren, who would later reprise her role on all subsequent new ships of the company, served as MSC Opera’s godmother.

One day later, the ship embarked on its inaugural voyage, kicking off a maiden season in the Western Mediterranean.

After five months in the region, the MSC Opera repositioned to North America in November, ahead of a winter season in the Caribbean.

Sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, the ship offered alternating itineraries to the Western and Eastern Caribbean during the entire 2004-2005 winter.

In 2015, the MSC Opera underwent the biggest refit of its career, which also included lengthening and a significant capacity increase.

After the drydock in Palermo, Italy, the ship emerged with additional cabins, new public areas and an additional 25-meter section.

During its two-decade career, the MSC Opera cruised in several parts of the world, including South America, the Middle East, Northern Europe, the Atlantic Islands and South Africa.

In 2024, the ship is set to spend the summer in the Eastern Mediterranean before repositioning to the Canary Islands for the winter.

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