07/30/2015 04:14 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

MSC Cruise Line Finds New Home in Havana

They say home is where the heart is, and the heart of MSC Cruise Line will now be in Havana...

MSC Cruise Line, the privately owned Italian company, is the first of the large cruise companies to announce moving their home port to Havana, Cuba. This presents a significant opportunity for MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) to move ahead of Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity, and Norwegian in staking a claim in Cuba. MSC's Opera is scheduled to depart from Genoa for Havana this December. In addition to Cuba, the Opera's anticipated itinerary includes porting in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Mexico.


"We are particularly proud to make this exciting new destination available to our guests," said Gianni Onorato, MSC's Chief Executive Officer. "The move to Cuba proves our commitment to offer our guests and holiday-makers 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."

Even while commercial relations with Cuba are improving, Congress has yet to lift the long-standing ban prohibiting Americans from freely traveling to the island country. As of today, Americans wanting to take the MSC cruise must obtain a special United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) license to travel, or fall within one of the 12 categories of permitted travel listed in the Cuban sanctions regulations. And even when the ban is lifted, most mega cruise ships will not be able to dock in Havana until its terminal is updated, extended, and dredged.

Suing MSC for Injuries

MSC is the fourth largest cruise line in the world after Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian. Currently, passengers injured on an MSC cruise ship leaving from a United States port are required to file any claims against the cruise line in Federal Court in Miami, within one year of the date of the incident. As a lawyer who sues cruise companies, I do not anticipate this changing, even with MSC's latest announcement, since much like Havana's port, that country's legal system is in no way able to handle complex maritime litigation, especially personal injury claims. Currently, our law firm has several pending claims against MSC on behalf of passengers who have been injured about the Divina. One is an unusual case of a male passenger who alleges he was over-served alcohol by the ship's crew, which led to his being the victim of sexual assault and rape by a fellow passenger. Read the complaint here.

Our firm investigates hundreds of potential claims every year on behalf of injured passengers, many of whom have consumed large amounts of alcohol prior to getting hurt. Alcohol consumption is frequently raised as a defense by the cruise lines and used to blame the passenger-even though many cruise lines offer unlimited prepaid drink plans. Carnival, for example, offers its Cheer Program for about $50.00 a day, with a 15-drink-a-day maximum. I believe that programs like this only encourage passengers to consume more alcohol-much the way an all-you-can-eat buffet encourages people to overeat. Increased alcohol consumption often leads to a higher likelihood of slipping, tripping, and falling on a cruise ship.

If you have been hurt on a cruise, it is very important to consult with an experienced cruise ship accident attorney quickly. Most cruise lines require that claims be submitted in writing within 180 days of the incident and that suits be filed in the Federal Court in Miami, no matter where in the world the accident may have occurred, and regardless of where the claimant is from.