Political unrest in Bahrain has forced MSC Cruises to alter its debut Gulf itineraries being launched this autumn. The Italian line is introducing calls at the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah in place of Bahrain.

“Given the volatility of the current situation in the island Kingdom, this change will continue throughout the 2011/12 season,” the company said. “MSC Cruises always puts the safety and security of its guests before all considerations.”

MSC has also decided to extend the cancellation of calls at Alexandria and Tunis (La Goulette) until the end of the 2011/12 winter, “having also closely monitored the situations in Egypt and Tunisia”.  “They will be replaced by other, equally exciting ports,” the company said.

Gulf cruises by MSC Lirica will see the ship call at Muscat in Oman and Al Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai as well as the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, which is described as a “captivating and relaxing tourist hub”, with beaches, desert dunes and the Hajjar Mountains.

The ship will be based in the Middle East for the winter running 19 cruises from Abu Dhabi, with departures every Sunday from October 30 through to March 4, 2012. Dubai departures will run on Fridays from October 28 to March 9.