Global Ambitions

Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises
Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises.

“In three years we will double our capacity and in 10 years we will triple it,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises.

In 2018 MSC will operate a fleet of 14 ships with an average size of 2,892 guests at double occupancy and is expected to be the largest operator by capacity in Europe. It has ambitious expansion plans in North America and China and is the market leader in South America and South Africa. By 2028 the company will have 24 ships in service, with an average size of 3,734 passengers.

“Our objective is to deliver a holiday experience which is unique to our customers and to tourism in general,” Vago told Cruise Industry News. “It’s also to expand the concept of cruising to the world,” Vago added.

Between now and 2026, MSC will take deliveries of ships on the Seaside, Meraviglia, Meraviglia Plus, Seaside EVO and the LNG-powered World Class platforms.

Vago described MSC as a global brand, with a premium level product offering at a contemporary price.

“Our common denominator is that we are a Mediterranean brand with the capability to fine-tune the experience to the area of operation,” Vago said. “We can fine-tune the product delivery.”

While its peers have a house of brands competing in the cruise market, MSC has a single brand with large ships.

“MSC has traditionally believed in organic growth,” Vago said.

But that doesn’t mean they may not one day explore other market segments as customers grow with the brand.

The MSC Seaside

In Europe, Vago said the company has realized their ambition to conquer the market, also entering the business later than all their competitors.

That strategy is now expanding to the rest of the world, he said, and the plans will follow demand.

In China, the MSC Splendida is replacing the Lirica on a seasonal basis, upping summer capacity out of Shanghai. In South America, the new Seaview will sail from Brazil for winter 2018-2019.

In North America, the new Seaside is year-round, to be joined by the 2017-built Meraviglia come 2019.

“We have customers travelling to the Caribbean and we needed to introduce new ships, with a different platform,” Vago said. “We had the need to put more cabins and a new offering into the North American market if we wanted to evolve our brand there.

“We had one ship (in North America) and she was filled with customers from Europe. We did not have the opportunity to grow,” he continued. “There is an opportunity for MSC to grow in North America but we needed to create both the hardware and the software for the market. That is the vision behind the building of a very new platform and prototype, the MSC Seaside.

“The Seaside is a spirit of our leadership in many ways. We are setting the pace for innovation and we will see many reflections of this platform for years to come.”

The Seaview, a sister ship, will be delivered this summer. The Seaside EVO platform, essentially an enlarged version with more staterooms, will be launched in 2021, with a second ship scheduled for a 2023 delivery from Fincantieri.

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MSC Cruises’ first Meraviglia-Plus ship to be named MSC Grandiosa

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MSC Cruises has announced that its first Meraviglia-Plus class ship will be named MSC Grandiosa when it enters service in November 2019.

The announcement was made by MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, as the line celebrated the steel-cutting ceremony for the ship as well as the traditional coin ceremony for MSC Bellissima, which is due to join the fleet in March 2019.

In addition to the two ships now under construction at the STX France shipyard, MSC also has two ships being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, as part of a 10-year investment plan which will see €9 billion invested in 11 new ships.

Vago said: “Today we are celebrating a truly unique moment, as it is the first time that key shipbuilding milestones for two different ships are celebrated on the same day. This is a testimony of the strength and ambition of our investment plan.”

He added: “The Meraviglia generation of ships is already setting a new standard for the cruise industry and is just one of the three brand new prototypes that we have designed to bring the cruise guest experience to the next level.

“MSC Grandiosa is named to signify magnificence and grandeur, a fitting name for this even richer, ultra-modern mega-ship.”

In addition to the first fine art museum at sea, MSC Grandiosa will be one of four MSC ships to feature Cirque du Soleil at Sea in the custom-built Carousel Lounge, Vago said.

The Meraviglia-Plus ships are an evolution of the Meraviglia class (pictured), which includes MSC Meraviglia – in service since June of this year – and MSC Bellissima.

The Plus class will be 331 metres in length, compared to the Meraviglia class at 315 metres, and will have a maximum capacity of 6,334 guests.

MSC Cruises Finalizes Two-Ship Construction Contract with STX France

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STX France and MSC Cruises have announced they have finalized the contracts for two new 177,000-ton cruise ships for MSC.

The two next-generation ships will be the largest ever built for a European cruise line.

Delivery is scheduled for 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The ships will be known as the “Meraviglia-Plus” class, an evolution of the smaller 167,000 GRT “Meraviglia” class. The first of two “Meraviglia” ships are scheduled to enter into service in June 2017. The will have capacity for 6,300 passengers in 2,450 cabins.

“I am extremely pleased to see us continuing to deliver against our industrial plan with the coming into force of the final contract for the two “Meraviglia-Plus” ships,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises. “I view this as a further reflection of the strength of the relationship in place from day one between MSC Cruises and STX France. It is for this reason that, in addition to having built at STX France all twelve of our existing ships, through 2026 up to eight more are currently planned to be built in France at STX.”

MSC Cruises said the two units finalized this week are part of the company’s €9 billion investment plan for eleven new next-generation cruise ships to coming into service by 2026