MSC Cruises is pleased to announce the United Arab Emirates as a new destination for its 2011-12 winter collection at this year’s Arabian Travel Market.

The elegant MSC Lirica will be based in Abu Dhabi as her homeport for her busy 2011-2012 winter season. The itinerary includes a full schedule of nineteen 8 day-7 night cruises from Abu Dhabi, with departures every Sunday from October 30th through to March 4th 2012 and alternatively from Dubai, with departures every Friday, from October 28th to March 9th 2012.

MSC Lirica will call at the port of Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, Al Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, Kashab in the Sultanate of Oman and include two unforgettable and unprecedented nights in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The luxurious 59,000-ton MSC Lirica, which has capacity for a total of 2069 guests in 780 cabins, features a sophisticated and elegant decor, superb attention to details in all areas, the finest Italian and international cuisine and a dazzling array of entertainment and activities. The luxury cruise ship boosts shops, a casino, a card room and the 713-seat Broadway theatre. Guests can choose between four different restaurants to dine in, or they can soak up the atmosphere of the Lord Nelson Pub, chill to a range of music in The Beverly Hills bar or dance their hearts out in the Blue Club Discotheque.

On October 14th 2011 MSC Lirica will depart from Genoa, Italy, for a 17 day-16 night maiden cruise to Abu Dhabi, to start her first ever cruise season in the United Arab Emirates. Her southbound course will take her from the Mediterranean Sea with calls in Naples, Italy, and Port Said, Egypt, through the Suez Canal to Aqaba in Jordan, Salalah and Muscat in Oman and finally to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Arabia will say farewell to MSC Lirica five months later, on March 11th 2012, when she starts her 18 day-17 night northbound return cruise from Abu Dhabi to Genoa in Italy. Scheduled stops are Al Fujayarah in the United Arab Emirates, Muscat and Salalah in Oman, Safaga in Egypt, Aqaba in Jordan, Port Sokhna in Egypt, through the Suez Canal to Port Said and finally to Naples and Genoa.

Ports of call during the Arabian itinerary include:

• Abu Dhabi is a cosmopolitan metropolis rich in splendours, from the magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the largest in the world with its 800 domes and 1,000 columns, to the Heritage Village, Emirates Palace and Al Ain archaeological site with its palace museum. Guests can head into the desert to enjoy the thrill of a roller coaster ride through sand dunes or stay in the city for some of the finest, most sophisticated shopping on the planet.

• Dubai defies definition as an ultramodern city steeped in tradition, flanking the coast with  a natural creek on the edge of the Arabian Desert. Guests will delight in its worlds within worlds, discovering Ajman’s famous museum and souk, taking a leisurely tour of the city in a traditional Dhow after dinner, traversing the desert’s golden dunes in a 4×4 or bathing in the natural pools at Hatta.

• Al Fujairah is a jewel of history and nature, set in majestic hillsides and wadis inhabited since the Iron Age. Visitors marvel at its atmospheric old city and 17th century fortress, Al Bithna Oasis with its prehistoric tomb, and the exquisite village of Masafi in the Hajar Mountains. Sun-seekers will find their own paradise in its scenic secluded beaches.

• Kashab lies on the northern tip of Oman’s Musandam peninsula, jutting out into the Strait of Hormuz. Known as the “Norway of Arabia” thanks to its sinuous coastline, the peninsula offers uniquely stunning, scenery with fingers of water that stretch deep inland like fjords. Experience creamywhite limestone cliffs that rise in romantic contrast from the calm, turquoise waters of sheltered sea.

• Muscat has been renowned as one of the world’s greatest ports since Ancient Rome. Guests can journey through time in the breathtaking Al Jalali and Al Mirani forts, the bustling souk, the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Mosque and the Beit Al Zubair museum. Then they can treat themselves to the timeless natural fragrances of the exclusive Amouage perfumery.