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.

MSC Wins Bid for Durban Cruise Terminal

Image result for Durban cruise terminal
MSC Opera

The Durban Cruise Terminal will be getting a significant upgrade as KwaZulu Cruise Terminal, a joint venture between MSC Cruises and Africa Armada Consortium, has won the bid build a new two-ship terminal and operate it for the next 25 years.

It also underlines MSC’s leadership position in the South Africa cruise market, where it remains the only company with a significant presence.

MSC plans to start construction later this year with a completion date of 2019. The cruise company owns 70 percent of the venture. 

MSC Cruises saves baby seal from uncertain fate

MSC Cruises saves baby seal from uncertain fate

MSC Cruises has reported back on a successful rescue mission after a baby seal was found stranded far from his natural habitat. 

Back in 2013, the animal – named Selso by his rescuers – was discovered washed up on a beach in South Africa, Seatrade Insider reports.

He was taken to uShaka Sea World in Durban, where conservation workers determined that he was a young southern elephant seal – some 2,200 km from the closest colony! 

When Selso arrived at the rehabilitation centre, he weighed 73 kg – less than half the average weight for an elephant seal of equivalent age. 

It took him seven months to recover from his ordeal, at which point MSC Cruises stepped in to help release him back into the wild.

Thanks to the crew of the MSC Sinfonia, which docked in Durban in January, he made it back to the colony on Marion Island – thought to be his original home – on June 30th. 

Selso is now said to be in excellent condition.

SELSO HEADS FOR THE ANTARCTIC

A map tracing Selso’s movements since his release near Port Elizabeth

Selso, the two-year-old elephant seal released off the coast of Port Elizabeth on 11 January 2014, is steadily making his way towards his home range in the Southern Ocean.

Following six months of rehabilitation at uShaka Sea World, Selso was deemed fit for release and transported courtesy of an MSC cruise liner, the Sinfonia, to a pre-selected destination 25 nautical miles off the Port Elizabeth coastline.

Secure in his transport crate, Selso was carefully lifted by crane over the side of the ship and lowered until the box reached approximately one metre from the surface of the water. uShaka Sea World staff member Wayne Sumpton, who was harnessed to the crane, stood on top of the crate mid-air and released its doors. As the second door was opened, Selso wasted no time deliberating and dived straight into the Indian Ocean, surfacing only once before disappearing into the ocean depths. Selso’s progress is being closely monitored, thanks to the satellite tracker fitted to his head.

The morning after his release he appeared to be heading back towards the coast but thankfully, about 30km from shore, he seemed to find his bearings, turn around and head directly south, passing the point of his release along the way.

Over the next two days Selso merged with the south-moving Agulhas current, which travels down the east coast of Africa.

By the morning of Thursday 16 January Selso was recorded at 182 nautical miles south of Port Elizabeth. Since his release Selso has travelled an average of 76km per day and appears to be heading in the right direction – towards the Antarctic.

Elephant seals are solitary and spend their lives in the ocean, only moving on to land to moult or breed. At just two years of age, Selso is about three years from sexual maturity. He will feed primarily on squid and fish, consuming around 12kg of food a day.

Marion Island is home to a massive colony of thousands of elephant seals, and the most likely destination for Selso. He is expected to make landfall to moult in November 2014.