Cruise infrastructure restraints in Australia are viewed as one of the major hurdles holding back MSC Cruises from deploying a home-ported ship in-market for the foreseeable future.
This past weekend, MSC Cruises officially welcomed its 20th vessel, MSC World Europa, at a gala Naming Ceremony in Doha. MSC will take delivery of its 21st vessel MSC Seascape on Wednesday of this week, and ship number 22 will join the fleet in Q2 2023. A sister-ship to World Europa, MSC World America, will debut in 2025, while there are two options for a further two World-Class ships with Fincantieri.
With such sustained fleet growth comes expansion into new markets for MSC, and the company has now created a beachhead in the Caribbean for the US market with purpose-built ships in the Seaside Class, while also establishing a strong presence in the Middle East. But the bulk of MSC Cruises’ vessels operate in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.
Australia isn’t alone in being void of an MSC ship deployment, with popular cruise destinations such as Alaska’s Inside Passage and Asia, also not offered at the moment.
Lisa Teiotu, Commercial Director, MSC Cruises Australia/New Zealand says the potential of an MSC ship in Australia, beyond World Cruises that pass through local waters, is “very much at the forefront of what MSC are looking at as we expand.”
“We are the market leader in Europe, we are the market leader in South America, in the Emirates and South Africa. Of course, Asia Pacific is a huge potential market for MSC,” Teito said.
“I think what we’d need to see to come to the Australian market is the infrastructure, and that would determine the type of hardware that we’d operate there.
“We’d also need to evaluate where that seasonal deployment might come from.
“We believe the passion for Australian cruising can certainly cater for a local homeport, but there are some challenges that we would need to overcome. It would be a complementary market to the Northern Hemisphere.”
“An Australian deployment is something that is always in our discussions. It’s a case of finding the right model to bring the right ship at the right time and have guests ready to sail with us,” Teiotu told LATTE in Doha aboard MSC World Europa.
Quizzed as to whether the hardware that might be considered for the Australian market would be either an older vessel or something new, Teiotu said: “I think with MSC, we want to bring the best product that we can, to provide a really special experience for the Australian guest.
“Whilst we could bring in older hardware we’d need to determine if that is the right direction for us.
“Being a new brand, coming into this market and really wanting to become a leader, we have to consider what our strategy is. If we entering a new market we need to make sure we have the right level of guest experience to build our brand.
“I believe we need to show what MSC is all about – the future of MSC – and I think that then is our bigger ships,” Teiotu added.
Two MSC ships will visit Australia in early 2023 as part of World Cruises. MSC Poesia and MSC Magnifica will be passing through in February and March. Their whistlestop visits will be the first time MSC has been back in Australian waters pre-COVID.