MSC Cruises said it will deploy the 2,120-passenger MSC Opera on weeklong cruises from Havana, beginning Dec. 22.
The cruises will include two nights and two-and-a-half days in Havana, and also visit Montego Bay, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and Georgetown in the Cayman Islands. The seasonal schedule will end in April.
Shore excursions will be offered through Cubanacan, a Cuba-based travel group.
MSC would become the largest cruise line offering cruises from Cuba. Previously, the largest operator had been Canada’s Cuba Cruise, which sailed the 1,200-passenger Celestyal Cristal ship last winter in Cuba and is scheduled to do so again in 2015-16.
MSC said it will have fly-cruise packages for passengers in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, Brazil and Argentina.
Privately owned MSC does not currently sail from the U.S., although it has plans to return a ship to Miami in November.
In order to travel on a cruise to Cuba, U.S. citizens have to fit into one of 12 categories, including travel for educational, cultural and religious purposes.
MSC Opera is currently in dry dock as part of a $220 million plan to upgrade four of MSC’s older ships.
In a statement, MSC chief executive Gianni Onorato thanked the transportation and tourism ministers in Cuba for "their continued highly professional contribution."
“The move to Cuba attests to our steadfast commitment to offer our experienced guests and holidaymakers the best and most sought-after destinations as they become accessible, thus further enhancing our global offering while providing travelers best-in-class experiences and service,” Onorato said.
The MSC Opera’s previously scheduled winter itineraries in the Canary Islands, Madeira and Morocco have been canceled.