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Old 02-21-2005, 07:41 AM
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The MSC Opera set sail on its inaugural Caribbean cruise with a number of enhancements for American customers. They range from food products and cabin amenities to service refinements. Bob Keesler, vp hotel and marine operations for MSC Cruises USA, said the company has made major strides in preparing to host more US customers this winter in the Caribbean. For example, MSC sent containers with products like American cuts of meat and even Sweet N'Lo (an artificial sweetener) to Italy to stock the Opera for its Atlantic crossing.

And, this season for the first time, MSC Cruises will provision its Caribbean fleet from a Florida warehouse using many US suppliers. Previously, the line brought in containers from Europe. Most important of all, Keesler told Seatrade Insider, the company has carried out 'a lot of work with the staff in understanding American tastes, wants and needs, everything from washcloths in the bathroom to ice in the cabin.' All this does not mean MSC Cruises is giving up its European flavor -- far from it. The line markets itself in the US as 'Premium Class -- With a True Italian Signature' and, along with adding US products, it has in fact increased regional Italian dishes, wines and specialty drinks.

MSC Cruises will continue to polish its on-board product. 'In many ways, we have a race with no finish line,' Keesler said. 'We'll never be done when it comes to improving our service. I'm very pleased with our progress over the last year.'