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    End of an era as MSC Cruises retires oldest ship. Long overdue?

    Call it the end of an era at MSC Cruises.

    The line on Monday announced the retirement of the 30-year-old MSC Melody — its oldest and smallest ship.

    Dating to 1982, the 1,098-passenger Melody in recent years has been an outlier at a line that otherwise boasted all new vessels. Originally built for Home Lines as the Atlantic, the ship also sailed for Premier Cruise Line before joining the MSC Cruises fleet in 1997.

    The retirement is effective immediately.

    "The decision to withdraw one of its first and most traditional cruise ships reaffirms MSC's focus on cutting-edge service and reflects the company's continued desire to offer travelers the highest standards in product innovation and the maximum in comfort, elegance and technology across the entire fleet," the line said in a statement.

    With the retirement of the Melody, MSC now has 11 ships, all of which have made debuts since 2001. Another MSC ship, the 3,502-passenger MSC Preziosa, is scheduled to begin sailing later this year.

    MSC says it is offering a wide range of alternatives for customers who already had booked a cabin on the Melody for the coming summer season.

    "Over the next few days these passengers will all be contacted, either directly by the company or through partner travel agents, and informed about all possible options including an upgrade on board one of the other beautiful ships in the MSC fleet," the line says.

    A spokesperson for the line tells USA TODAY the Melody has been listed for sale at Lloyd's.

    By Gene Sloan, USA Today

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    We’ve heard mixed reviews on MSC but we’d love to try them someday. I don’t think we’d go over for any of their European sailings but when the right deal for something out of Florida comes along we’ll be there!

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