MSC Cruises developing an ‘army’ of ships

Vago defends "Y-shape" design of World class vessels

World Galleria, MSC World Europa

The naming of MSC Cruises‘ first World class ship in Qatar last weekend and the delivery three days later of its fourth Seaside class ship in Italy is a clear sign that the family-owned cruise company means business in the contemporary and premium cruise sectors.

The new flagship, 5,877-passenger MSC Seascape, handed over at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, is MSC Cruises’ 21st ship. It features a range of the latest and most advanced environmental technologies currently available at sea. A third new ship, MSC Euribia – within the Meraviglia-Plus class, will take sustainability initiatives for the brand to the next level again when it is delivered in mid-2023.

The evolution and expansion of MSC Cruises’ fleet is mind-blowing. Five new state-of-the-art vessels in the past 5 years alone, plus another firm order for a second World Class ship – MSC World America – in 2025, plus two additional yet-to-be-confirmed options.

Venom Drop in the Promenade aboard MSC World Europa

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While the core product caters for the contemporary market, MSC’s ‘ship-within-a-ship’ concept – MSC Yacht Club – was developed to appeal to the premium audience, providing those guests with privacy, all-inclusivity and choice. With each new ship the Yacht Club continues to expand. On MSC World Europa, there are 152 suites at the ‘pointy end’, including all-new two-deck Duplex Suites.

Add to that, six firm ship orders for MSC Group’s new and highly-anticipated ultra-luxury cruise brand Explora Journeys, which will progressively be delivered between 2023 and 2028.

Executive Chairman for the Cruise Division of MSC Group, Pierfrancesco Vago, understandably says “growth in MSC is important”.

“This year MSC will represent 50% of the global growth of the cruise market.

“That’s family, that’s being an entrepreneur, that’s having a vision, believing in what you are doing,” Vago said from aboard MSC World Europa in Doha.

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruise Division

“Coming out of the pandemic, taking the lead in the pandemic, creating the protocol, reassuring the consumer how incredible this platform of holidays can be, not only for the delivery, for the value for money, but also to grow and carry on, with the mid-term and long-term vision, and believing in the growth, the industrial investments that are important and allow us to grow and penetrate the market globally even more.”

Vago said the hardware (design) of a ship is equally as important as the software offered onboard. Together, the hardware and software play an important role in the geographical area where the ships will operate.

MSC’s traditional fleet comprises four Lirica, Musica and Fantasia class of ships, before the evolution began to arrive with MSC Meraviglia in 2016.

MSC Cruises’ Seaside class offers the industry’s highest open space, guest-to-crew ratio, and is “designed to bring the passenger closer to the water”, operating in warmer water regions of the world such as the Caribbean, Vago said. The Meraviglia and Meraviglia-Plus class of ship are designed for ‘all seasons’ (winter, shoulder and summer operations), while the new World class offer more balcony cabins, with external promenade views.

Vago told media the World class design has been “misunderstood” by some in the industry, referring – but not openly stating – to similarities in the design of Royal Caribbean Group’s Oasis Class of ships which also feature an open Promenade in the centre of their vessels.

“Some people misunderstood that this was already a project in the industry but it is not. This is a Y-shaped project and it’s completely different. There isn’t anything that exists today operating, and I am sure many of you have seen the differentiation of this project,” Vago said.

Vago said this three-pronged ship platform provides MSC with the capability and flexibility to grow and penetrate into different markets.

Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises, said World Europa offers a “conglomerate of opportunities” for customers.

“We have all the targets here – families, senior couples, young couples, solo guests, people that love a certain type of food, a certain type of entertainment.”

With the addition of MSC World Europa, MSC Seascape and MSC Euribia (in 2023), Onorato said MSC will have a “big army” to serve the Mediterranean market in 2023, comprising 16 ships, plus a further four vessels in the Caribbean.

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