Leave the harsh North American winter behind and experience the warmth and beauty of the Mediterranean amidst the elegance and European and Italian ambiance of MSC Cruises’ two newest ships.

Guests can enjoy comfortable Mediterranean climates under less-crowded conditions – and with the lower airfares that come with the off-peak season – this winter on MSC Fantasia and MSC Poesia while discovering the hidden corners of Italy, Spain and Portugal or exploring the ancient mysteries of Egypt, Greece and Turkey.

MSC Fantasia, which debuts in December 2008, is the largest ship in the line’s fleet. In addition to five dining venues (including a Tex-Mex alternative dining option), the expansive AUREA SPA featuring Balinese treatments and a large Aqua Park (with 150 illuminated fountains), it introduces the MSC Yacht Club, the line’s new exclusive VIP area. MSC Yacht Club is a paradise within a paradise. It will consist of 99 spacious suites (up to 700 square feet), plus a bar, solarium, 2 Jacuzzis, a pool with sky dome, as well as offer guests their own butler service.

MSC Poesia is truly an Italian poem of the seas, with sophisticated color schemes, attention to detail and service. The ship features 12 bars, the refined AUREA SPA and the Kaito Sushi Bar, with its Japanese food and ambiance, including a Zen garden and art pieces.

After her December christening in Naples, MSC Fantasia will sail two 8-night roundtrip holiday itineraries from Genoa: the Dec. 20, 2008 Christmas sailing calls at Rhodes, Alexandria, Messina and Naples, while the Dec. 28, 2008 New Year’s itinerary visits Barcelona, Lisbon, Malaga and Civitavecchia. The ship will then sail 11-night Western Mediterranean and Canary Islands roundtrip itineraries from Genoa that call in Barcelona, Funchal, Tenerife, Arrecife, Malaga and Civitavecchia, from Jan. 5-Feb. 18, 2009. Departures from Barcelona are also available on all sailings except Dec. 20, 2009.

MSC Poesia, which debuted in spring 2008, will spend the winter sailing alternating 11-night itineraries roundtrip from Genoa. The Eastern Mediterranean and Egypt itineraries call at Katakolon, Piraeus, Rhodes, Alexandria, Limassol, Marmaris, Heraklion and Naples or at Ajaccio, Messina, Rhodes, Alexandria, Valletta, La Goulette and Naples. The Western Mediterranean and Canary Islands itinerary calls at Barcelona, Casablanca, Tenerife, Funchal, Malaga and Civitavecchia.

MSC Cruises’ winter cruises promote relaxation and personal harmony on board elegant and modern ships. Discover the beauty of the Mediterranean’s unique coastline from a balcony stateroom.

Guests can reap significant savings on the line’s Europe itineraries by taking advantage of the “Best Fare, Best Room” promotion, which provides the best stateroom available within their desired category (interior, oceanview, balcony) at the time of booking. “Best Fare, Best Room” rates begin at $1,049 per person, double occupancy; rates are cruise only, USD, government fees and taxes and fuel surcharge additional.

Families can also take advantage of the special “Kids Sail Free” offer on all Europe sailings when youngsters ages 17 and under share a stateroom with two full-fare-paying adults