Cruise lines in the Mediterranean are picking up their game as competition heats up in the market.

Earlier this month, MSC announced it would remove its only UK-based ship in 2015 to focus on its Mediterranean operations.

The announcement was made only days before Royal Caribbean revealed it was sending the world’s largest ship, Allure of the Seas to sail the region for the first time in May next year.

Operating 22 itineraries in the region, the ship is expected to steal a portion of the market, particularly because it houses 5,400 passengers – that is 1,300 more passengers than Norwegian Epic, the largest non-Royal Caribbean ship sailing in the area.

Although MSC’s largest ship in the Med holds only 3,502 passenger, the line is a market leader, a position MSC executive director for the UK, Ireland and Australia says MSC can only maintain by increasing its fly, cruise capacity in 2014/15.

“By offering these special fly, land and cruise packages we are doing the hard work of planning and organising the holiday for our clients,” MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand managing director Lynne Clarke said.

“The flexible return flight offer is a real bonus.”

Among the host of packaged itineraries is the 28-night Glacier & Mediterranean Magic cruise.

It begins with a flight from Australia on 29 August 2014. Arriving in the Med, guests board MSC Poesia to visit Hellesylt, Flaam, Tallinn, Warnemunde (for Berlin) and Copenhagen before cruising to Zeebrugge, La Coruna, Lisbon and Gibraltar.

The final Mediterranean leg of the cruise includes calls on Barcelona and Marseille before finishing in Italy’s Genoa.

Priced from $7,041 per person twin share, the offer includes return airfare from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth or Adelaide to Hamburg in Germany; transfers; and one-night stay.