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Geneva, Switzerland, 20 August 2015 – MSC Cruises S.A., the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and market leader in Europe – including in the Mediterranean – as well as in South America, today revealed plans to make its first sailing to China, with the newly-renovated MSC Lirica calling in Shanghai on 1 May, 2016 after having travelled across continents. The 65,000-GRT ship will make the Company’s maiden call in China’s biggest megalopolis after a 60-day round-the-world Grand Voyage via Europe which departs on 3 March 2016 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises CEO declared: “We are delighted to once more be able to offer our guests a brand new itinerary - from Brazil to China via Europe – which offers the chance to visit some of the most appealing places on earth, certainly across a huge array of people and cultures.”

Mr Onorato added: “This new Grand Voyage offering is proof of our steadfast commitment to offer our experienced guests and holiday-makers innovative and sought-after destinations. As MSC Cruises continues to expand the destinations it calls – such as Cuba that we recently announced – we are further enhancing our global offering while providing travellers best-in-class experiences and service.”

Three different versions of the Grand Voyage, with Shanghai as final destination, will be offered to cruise lovers and eager travellers from 21 August 2015. MSC Cruises’ guests will have the opportunity to depart from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Genoa in Italy or Dubai in the UAE.

MSC Cruises has a broad range of itineraries on offer to meet the demand from cruisers around the world from short three night-breaks to standard seven-night journeys but also cruises of 11 to 14 nights, as well as an extensive Grand Voyage offering which includes journeys from Europe to South America, the Antilles and Caribbean, to South Africa or Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Emirates and back. This new offer of back-to-back Grand Voyages from South America to China via Europe highlights MSC Cruises’ vast offering beyond its core leadership in Europe and the Mediterranean. Indeed, MSC Cruises also offers cruises in the Caribbean, the French Antilles and other sought-after locations around the world from Northern Europe to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman.

Additionally, earlier this month MSC Cruises made the headlines when it announced that, as of December 2015, it will be the first global cruise line to offer travellers the opportunity to visit Cuba and set sail on one of the 16 cruises that MSC Opera will operate from Havana.

Before setting sail, MSC Lirica will have been fully renovated and enlarged under the Renaissance Programme, which entails a comprehensive overhaul programme due to be completed in November 2015.

The ship will leave Guanabara Bay and Rio de Janeiro on 3 March 2016 and sail north along the coast of Brazil to Buzios, Salvador, Maceio and Fortaleza before crossing the Atlantic on a northeast course towards the Canary Islands and the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife before reaching mainland Europe and Cadiz, Spain.

From there, MSC Lirica will call the three biggest ports in the Mediterranean: Barcelona, Marseille or Genoa. Guests will therefore be able to decide to embark in Europe to journey towards Asia. Thus, MSC Cruises guests will be offered the unique pleasure to sail from Catalonia, Provence or Liguria to the mythical port of Shanghai, the gateway to China and the Far East, on a 41-night journey to the other side of the world.

During this once-in-a-lifetime journey across seas and oceans, the 2,600-guest ship will embark MSC Cruises’ guests in Barcelona, Marseille or Genoa, on a 42-day cruise that will take them to 18 ports in 13 countries, once they have left the shores of Liguria.

From Genoa, MSC Lirica will call Naples (Italy), the island of Crete with Heraklion (Greece), then head south to Aqaba in Jordan, followed by Muscat (Oman), Khor Al Fakhan in the United Arab Emirates followed by an overnight stay in Dubai (also U.A.E). From the Persian Gulf, the then 65.000GRT-ship will set sail towards the East and the Indian cities of Goa and Cochin, then call Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka, and then journey to Phuket, Thailand, Penang and Port Kenang in Malaysia before arriving in Singapore.

After her stay Singapore, the ship will bring its guests to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam before reaching Hong Kong. From the former British colony, Shanghai will be the next call for an overnight stay to allow MSC Cruises guests, and then head across the China sea to Fukuoka in Japan. From the Land of the Rising Sun, MSC Lirica will head to the high seas for the last time of her journey and return to Shanghai it will arrive on 1 May 2016.

In other news, the just-published Cruise Industry News Annual Report declared MSC Cruises the number one cruise line in Europe, including in the Mediterranean. The Report, which is one of the most reputable sources of information for the industry, stated that MSC Cruises conquered the leading rank in the industry thanks to a deployed capacity across the Continent of about 1.1 million passengers.