MSC Changing Course?

MSC Cruises has dropped plans to have the Lirica sail year-round service in North America, starting with cruises from New York in April of 2007. Citing the brand’s “recent newbuild orders and expanding presence in Europe and around the world,” the company said it has revised its itineraries and vessel deployments.

The Musica, which enters service this spring, was also supposed to come to Florida during the winter 2006/2007, but will instead be positioned in Europe. MSC will bring the Lirica and Opera back to Florida next winter and will offer more 11-day cruises. Meanwhile, MSC said it is “discussing opportunities” for North America for 2008.

What the deployment changes mean for the company’s North American strategy is not yet known, but its build-up of an organization in Ft. Lauderdale seemed based on the premise that MSC would not only focus on sourcing more passengers in North America, but also base ships here year-round

For now, MSC will in effect repeat this year’s winter program next year, with the only difference being more longer cruises.

In related news at MSC, Ares Michaelides has resigned from his position as Coo, while the company has promoted Jim Henwood to senior vice president of sales, marketing and passenger services, and Sylvain Martel to vice president of sales from director of national accounts.

MSC’s newest ship, a 90,000-ton, 2,550-passenger vessel, a continuation of the Musica class and ordered just two weeks ago for delivery in 2008, has been named Poesia. The series also includes the Orchestra, to be delivered next year, and an option for 2009.

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