MSC Cruises’ Magnifica was welcomed to San Pedro on Wednesday with plaques, flags and best wishes. The ship received the over-the-top greeting at the Port of Los Angeles because it's the first time any MSC ship has been on the West Coast.
The stop was part of the European line's first World Cruise, a 119-day journey that took it to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal since leaving Genoa, Italy, on Jan. 5. After L.A., it headed for San Francisco on Thursday.
Altogether, the ship will visit 49 destinations before returning to Europe on May 4, sailing across the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and through the Gulf.
The morning gathering in San Pedro of city and ship representatives was a love fest. "We're visiting the most beautiful ports in the world," Capt. Marco Massa said. “That's why we're here."
In response, Scott Gray of Visit San Pedro wished the ship's crew "fair winds and following seas."
In addition to plaques presented by the tourism board and port authorities, the ship received a burgee (a triangular sailing club flag) from the Los Angeles Yacht Club's commodore Marie Rogers, who wished the Magnifica luck and asked it to fly the club's flag as it sailed the world.
MSC Cruises, while not well known in the United States, is the fourth-largest cruise line in the world and one of the world's largest privately owned companies, a 300-year-old shipping industry powerhouse. It currently has a fleet of 15 cruise ships, but plans to have 29 by 2027.
The line's ships sail from Miami on week-long Caribbean cruises, but it is better known for its European voyages.
Will it ever sail from a West Coast port? "We are looking at this part of the world, from the West Coast up to Alaska," said MSC corporate executive Tim Skinner.