MSC Cruises to homeport ‘enlarged’ ship in Southampton

MSC Cruises is to lengthen and refurbish one of its ships and homeport it in Southampton for the summer season in 2021.

The ship, which has not been named, will go into drydock and re-emerge as “a super-enhanced version” of itself.

It will be the first time MSC has based one of its ships in the UK for a full season.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Antonio Paradiso, managing director for UK & Ireland, said: “This is not just a refitting. It will be a perfect blend of an old prototype ship and a new one.

“The larger ship will sail northern Europe itineraries to the Baltic capitals, Norwegian Fjords, North Cape and some southbound destinations.”

He also said: “It was the first time we have made a 100% commitment to the UK market.”

Paradiso revealed the ship would partner with “exciting British brands” and be “adapted” to meet the needs of the UK market.

“We learnt a lot from MSC Magnifica, bringing on British food, kettles and tea bags,” he added. “It has satisfaction scores of 7.5 out of 10 which is great for a first operation out of the UK.

“2021 gives us an opportunity to further improve those scores.”

Paradiso said plans were still being finalised and he would confirm the ship, deployment and details in “two to three months’ time”.

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MSC TO BUILD FOUR 1,000 GUEST LUXURY CRUISE SHIPS

MSC Seaview in Valletta, Malta
MSC Cruises is continuing its impressive growth in the cruise industry as the company today announced an agreement to build four ultra-luxury cruise ships at Fincantieri.
The 1,000-guest, 64,000-ton ships will enter service in 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026. The memorandum of agreement is for a total value in excess of two million euro, MSC said and marks the company’s first dedicated luxury ships.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, said: “It is off the back of the great success of our ship-within-a-ship luxury concept that our guests asked us to enter into the ultra-luxury segment, as a natural evolution of the MSC Yacht Club. These ships will be able to offer unique itineraries, thanks to their size, and the guest services will be taken to another level, including our personalized MSC Yacht Club butler service, available 24/7.”
By 2027, MSC will have 25 mega ships in service, up from 15 today. The additional four ships will put the MSC fleet at 29 ships by 2027 with over 98,000 berths and a market capacity of over 5 million guests annually, according to Cruise Industry News estimates.
“I am especially pleased to be able to further extend our partnership with Fincantieri through this new order. The award-winning Seaside and Seaside-Evo class have already been recognized as ground-breaking and innovative designs. We are now introducing another new class, which will establish a new standard of ultra-luxury at sea with ships that will showcase the quality and highest standards that are associated with Made in Italy,” Vago said.
Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: “It is with pride that two great brands – an Italian one and one with a strong Italian DNA -, well-known all over the world, today announce an important construction program. We are extremely satisfied that to launch a new class of ships in the luxury segment, MSC Cruises has acknowledged that our project will allow creating a new generation of cutting-edge units from both a technological point of view, safety and with particular attention paid to passenger comfort. With this project Fincantieri can count on 53 cruise ships in its order book, confirming to be an absolute market leader in all the cruise shipbuilding segments.”

Le Havre Planning More Cruise Terminals

MSC named its new Meraviglia last year in Le Havre

Le Havre is expecting 140 cruise calls this year and 420,000 cruise passengers, said Jean-Baptiste Gastinne, president of Le Havre Cruise Club.

Those numbers are up from last year and include 40 turnarounds, made up of 22 calls by the MSC Magnifica, 12 from the Royal Princess, as well as turns from Costa Cruises and Rivages du Monde.

The 2017 season was closed out by the Artania, which was on a Christmas cruise, becoming the 129th vessel to visit and rounding the passenger number for 2017 off to 397,522

The port facilities can easily handle three large cruise ships at once, said Gastinne, with virtually no size limits and a generous water depth of 10.5 meters.

There is no shortage of shore excursions for passengers, with both Normandy and Paris nearby.

Terminal 12 will get an upgrade in time for the 2019 season, enhancing its footprint for turnaround operations for big cruise ships.

“Thanks to the strong relationships with other cruise destinations in Northern Europe, we have driven visibility to the region and we now benefit from regular calls from cruise lines, which used to stop only for seasonal repositioning in the past,” noted Gastinne.

As the industry grows, Le Havre hopes to add three additional cruise terminals with the aim of welcoming up to four mega-ships at once and hosting two simultaneous turnarounds. 800,000 passengers annually by 2023 is not unrealistic, Gastinne noted.