FORT LAUDERDALE — MSC Cruises for the first time will homeport a ship in Miami.
The Italy-based line said will base the MSC Divina in Miami during winter 2013-14, operating eastern and western Caribbean cruises.
The 3,502-passenger ship is under construction at France’s STX Shipyard. It will enter service next month.
Richard Sasso, president of MSC Cruises USA, announced the deployment at CLIA’s Cruise3sixty conference. The Divina is the line’s 12th ship, and will feature the MSC Yacht Club.
The Divina will operate from Miami from late November 2013 to May 2014, before returning to Europe for the summer season.
“There’s a certain style about MSC ... that is going to be much more visible to the North American market when we bring the Divina to Miami,” said Sasso.
“It’s exciting news for our travel agent partners. That’s why we chose to announce it at 3sixty,” he added.
We started this process eight or nine years ago with this [seasonal homeport] in mind,” said Sasso.
Bill Johnson, port director of Miami, said he was ecstatic about the deployment.
“We’re excited MSC will be homeporting with us. It’s a dream come true. It’s our first ‘diva’ in Miami,” he said.
The port will “roll out the red carpet” for the Divina, added Johnson.
Sasso said he expects the lion’s share of the Divina’s passengers will hail from North America during the Miami deployment.
“I expect it will be 80% North Americans and 20% from Europe and [elsewhere],” he said.
He hinted that additional North America deployments, including a possible year-round deployment, would be announced soon.
Follow Donna Tunney on Twitter @dttraveleekly.