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Geneva, Switzerland, 06 July - MSC Cruises S.A., the world’s largest privately-owned global cruise line and market leader in the Mediterranean announced that its ship MSC Opera, the third of four MSC Cruises ships to be renovated under the Renaissance Programme, re-joined the high seas on Saturday 4 July and will homeport in Venice for the entire summer season. This positioning further strengthens the offering of MSC Cruises in the eastern Mediterranean for the season.

To meet the demand from guests and would-be cruisers, MSC Cruises tailored MSC Opera’s itineraries to feature the best and most beautiful places the region has to showcase. Thus, MSC Opera will offer departures from Venice for 14 days with calls in southern Italy and the region of Puglia, mainland Greece as well as its islands, the beautiful Black Sea coast of Romania, Sochi and the Russian Riviera, Turkey and its cosmopolitan former capital city, the Dalmatian coast of Croatia before heading back to Venice - the Queen of the Adriatic – a city that is a destination on its own.

Following her enhancement work, MSC Opera will present new features and amenities. For example, she now has more balcony cabins, more spacious common areas than previously and flexible new dining options. Additionally, MSC Opera was fitted with a stunning new outdoor Spray Park – a fun-filled wet zone with interactive jets, slides and ingenious water features for the biggest pleasure of children and parents alike.

MSC Opera will be the third ship in the MSC Cruises’ fleet to feature tailor-made areas for children that have been officially designed, equipped and endorsed by Chicco® and LEGO®. All these enhancements add a dazzling complement to MSC Opera’s existing amenities, such as three open-air swimming pools, distinctive restaurants and bars.

The ship now features 197 new cabins, of which 30 have balconies, for a total of 204 balcony cabins aboard. Redesigned restaurants and bars. Food lovers weren’t forgotten as the buffet now opens 20 hours a day and some 20 hours of spectacular entertainment are available each day – for all ages . the ship will also feature separate Baby (0-3); Mini (3-6); Juniors (7-11); Young (12-14); and Teens (15-17) clubs, yet another trademark of MSC Cruises’ distinctive holiday experience

The €200m Renaissance Programme is an additional part of €5.1 bn investment plan launched in 2014, which includes four brand new ships to be delivered by STX France and Fincantieri, in Italy, between 2017 and 2019, with options for three more by 2022.

Ports and destinations:

Bari: the ancient city, facing the entrance of the Adriatic sea, is well known for the quality of its food and how welcoming its inhabitants are. The old city of Bari is a marvel to wander around, an entrancing jumble of streets that are possibly the most mind-bending place to walk around on your Mediterranean cruises to southern Italy. On arriving in the heart of Bari’s old city, you find the Basilica di San Nicola, consecrated in 1197 to house the relics of the saint plundered a century earlier from southern Turkey via Mediterranean Sea.

Athens: a visit to the Acropolis, the world-famous UNESCO heritage site, will be an unforgettable experience. See the Parthenon, just above the Acropolis, one of the world’s most famous temple, an enduring symbol of ancient Greece and of Athenian democracy. Athens is full of history, a melting pot of influences throughout the centuries, simply stroll the streets of the city with its street markets, wine shops, souvenir stalls and ancient monuments to understand and fall in love with the unique atmosphere of this timeless beauty.

Constanta: Romania is a little-known and very beautiful country that needs to be discovered, together with the thriving city of Constance. The city is not only the largest port in the country, but also one of the most fascinating of all Romania. It offers many places to visit and explore, such as the Danube delta near Tulcea. It was founded by the Greeks some 2600 years ago on the southern coast of the Black Sea, and, according to Greek mythology, is the port that welcomed Jason, the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece on their return.

Sochi: thanks to its location on the shores of the Black Sea, with a pleasant subtropical climate and warm to hot summers and mild winters, Sochi is the largest resort city of Russia. Much of the monumental architecture of Sochi dates back to the 19th century, while the fortress and temple of Godlik Loo date back to ancient Byzantine settlements.

Istanbul: visit the only city in the world to have been the capital of three major empires (Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman), that today presents a fascinating mix of different layers of history and traditions with a strong urge for modernity. The museums, churches, palaces, mosques, bazaars and the wonderful natural landscapes seem endless. Apart from the rich historical and cultural background of Istanbul, its many attractions, restaurants, nightclubs and shops make it one of the most fascinating destinations of your cruise vacation in the Mediterranean.

Mykonos: it is the most popular of the Cyclades Islands, in Greece, and welcomes every year almost one million visitors. Many think of Mykonos only in terms of entertainment, but this wonderful destination offers much more. Waterfront buildings made of wood and painted in different colours, Mykonos is rich in history and natural beauty, and at the same time it is a city with a cosmopolitan character.

Santorini: the largest island of the Cyclades archipelago the archipelago of the Cyclades Islands, Santorini is an iconic destination that has no comparison elsewhere. Santorini is the result of more than 3,000 years of volcanic activity and sits above a caldera that can be visited. White houses, beautiful sunshine and beaches, and some of the most stunning sunsets can be experienced there.

Argostoli/Kefalonia: it is the capital city of the charming island of Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece. Ruled in turn by the Romans and other local powers, by the kingdoms of Naples, of Venice, by the Ottomans, by the French and the British before becoming Greek in 1864. Its pristine beaches, luxuriant olive groves and local crafts will please all visitors of this charismatic island.

Dubrovnik: it is the capital of southern Dalmatia in Croatia, and is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world, as it entered the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979. The “Pearl of the Adriatic” is the gateway to the dramatically scenic Dalmatian region, with many excursions and trips available to MSC guests for everyone’s pleasure. The walls of Dubrovnik have also been a popular filming site for the fictional city of King's Landing in the HBO television series, “Game of Thrones”.