MSC Cruises’ return to ex-UK sailings delayed by a year

MSC Cruises is unlikely to return to offering a full season of ex-UK sailings until 2018, a year later than the line previously predicted.

Speaking at the steel cutting of new ship MSC Seaside (pictured), Gianni Onorato, chief executive of the line, said the line would be delayed returning to the UK by a year.

Initially there had been hopes that the brand would make a return in 2017, having pulled out this year.

Next year the line is offering a small number of sailings from Southampton, but Onorato said “internal commitments” had meant the operator would not have a ship sailing a full season from the UK until 2018.

He said: “we are going to look more deeply at the North American and UK markets, and then after that we will look at Asia.

“In the UK we want to be the reference cruise line for the Mediterranean, and we’re investing in that. As soon as we have growth in the fleet we will look to have a competitive ship in the UK market.

“I think we will have a one-year delay in coming back to the UK because of other developments internally.”

He said over time he would like MSC to rival domestic cruise lines such as P&O Cruises.

Giles Hawke, executive director for the line who is responsible for the UK market, said it was important for the line to grow and build revenues in the UK if it wants to secure a ship ex-UK.

Onorato also made some announcements about new features onboard MSC Seaside, which will sail year-round from Miami when it launches in 2017.

The ships will offer “super family plus” cabin for groups of up to 10 people, as the line looks to capitalise on the growth of multi generational and group cruises.

It will be “extremely kids-friendly” according to Onorato and will also have a kids-only restaurant. Onorato said MSC was a family company which always had families at heart.

He announced that there would be cluster cabins for groups of up to 10 people, with the super family plus option combining two balcony staterooms and an inside cabin.

MSC Orchestra’s arrival in Singapore marks MSC Cruises’ first foray into Asia


MSC Orchestra sailing in Asian waters

MSC Cruises made its first foray into Asia Thursday, a region it described as ‘the new trendy area of cruising and the future area of growth’.

Welcoming some 200 passengers on board, MSC Cruises ceo Gianni Onorato said: ‘This is a historic moment in our company’s journey – the first time an MSC Cruises ship has called at the magnificent city of Singapore. In fact, all 13 ports of call on MSC Orchestra’s pioneering grand voyage are firsts for MSC Cruises.’

He added: ‘We are in Singapore to show how firmly we believe in the Asian market’s potential, which is only going to grow further in the foreseeable future.’

Speaking to Seatrade Insider, Onorato disclosed: ‘We will be deploying into Asia and need to decide when. We will perhaps go to North Asia with one of our newbuilds.’

Neeta Lachmandas, assistant chief executive, business development group, Singapore Tourism Board, also lauded the move, saying: ‘This development is testament to the potential of Southeast Asia,’

She said cruise is a high growth business with a lot of opportunities and this growth is led by Asia where now some 52 ships are deployed and including nine year-round deployments.

A Boston Consulting Group study had shown that 60% of spending is going to come from Asia by 2020, she said.

‘Southeast Asia is a cruising playground in its own right – with over 25,000 islands and diverse attractions ranging from cosmopolitan cities to pristine beaches and UNESCO Heritage sites. We are excited that travellers from all over the world will get to experience so much of Asia through MSC Orchestra,’ she added.

MSC Cruises executive director for emerging markets, Antonio Paradiso, said: ‘MSC Cruises has grown 800% since 2004. In 2014, we carried 40,000 guests per day on our fleet of 12 ships, and with up to seven new ships in two state-of-the-art prototypes coming online by 2022 we’ll double our current capacity. We used to carry 80,000 guests per year at the start and we’ll carry 80,000 guests a day at the end of our investment plan. This growth will unlock fresh opportunities, including new markets and regions, and untried itineraries.’

The 2,550-passenger MSC Orchestra is currently undertaking a 33-night voyage from Dubai to Perth, Australia. The ship will call 13 ports in eight countries across three continents. Singapore is the sixth port of call on the journey.

After an overnight stay, MSC Orchestra will sail for Benoa in Bali followed by four sea days before arriving in Cairns, Australia.

MSC Orchestra’s time Down Under covers maiden calls in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, before her final destination of Fremantle, the port serving Perth.

While MSC Orchestra marked the first time an MSC Cruises’ ship has called in Asia, the line has been carrying Asian cruisers for a period of time, particularly in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf. ‘We are the biggest importers of Asian cruisers in the world,’ Onorato said.

Former Costa president named MSC Cruises boss

Former Costa president named MSC Cruises boss

Former Costa president named MSC Cruises bossFormer Costa Cruises president Gianni Onorato is moving to Italian rival MSC Cruises as chief executive.

He takes up the new role on September 2, with current chief executive Pierfrancesco Vago stepping up to become executive chairman.

Vago will continue to lead the privately-owned cruise company, while scaling up the scope of his duties, MSC said.

“From his new position, he will also oversee all the other companies of the MSC group that have strategic relevance to the tourism sector,” the company said.

Onorato, who stood down from Costa in June after more than nine years as president, has almost 30 years experience in the cruise industry.

He said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to this exciting role and I am also particularly excited to move to Geneva, where the MSC Cruises headquarters is based.”

“I will do everything I can to add value to the company and help MSC Cruises maximise its industry-leading position. I look forward to starting work with the management team in this significant moment of the company’s growth.”

MSC Cruises runs a fleet of 12 ships and confirmed in July that former Carnival UK sales and customer delivery director Giles Hawke was joining as UK managing director on November 13.