Itinerary Planning: MSC Cruises Brings Global Focus

MSC World Europa

“We are focused on consolidating and increasing our presence in our core markets, while also developing new opportunities for the future,” said Achille Staiano, vice president of global sales for MSC Cruises.

“So, for example, we will have 12 ships in the Mediterranean in 2024, seven in the Western Mediterranean and five in the Eastern Mediterranean, and four ships in Northern Europe, offering more short and longer cruises in addition to our seven-day programs.”

The newest addition to the fleet, MSC Euribia, is set to launch service this June. The 178,700-ton, 4,888-passenger ship (double occupancy) is named after the ancient goddess Eurybia who harnessed the winds, weather, and constellations to master the seas. She will be the first ship in the fleet with hull livery.

Deployed in Northern Europe, the Euribia will be sailing mostly seven-day cruises from Kiel and Copenhagen, with port calls alternating between Hellesylt, Ålesund, Flåm and Måløy in Norway.

During the 2023-24 winter, the Euribia will continue a Northern European program along the Atlantic coast of the continent as well as longer voyages to the Canary Islands, embarking passengers in Amsterdam, Zebrugge, Southampton, Hamburg and Le Havre.

For the full year 2024, MSC will embark passengers in 27 different Mediterranean ports. The most frequently used turnaround port will be Civitavecchia.

Four MSC ships will sail winter cruises in the Mediterranean during the 2024-25 season, the World Europa, Sinfonia, Fantasia and Lirica.

The brand is also building up its presence and capacity in North America, with five ships during the winter season 2023-2024, and three ships for the 2024 summer, sailing from Miami, Port Canaveral and New York.

The market presence will receive another big boost in 2025 with the arrival of the new World America, sister ship to the World Europa, which was introduced late last year.

In addition to being the largest cruise brand in Europe, MSC is also the largest in South America, South Africa and the Middle East.

While China is “closed” to cruises, MSC has not been sitting idly by, but has focused its attention on Japan, where the government has engaged with the company and given it the opportunity to expand, Staiano said.

A world cruise is also on the schedule for the winter of 2024 with the Poesia sailing 120 days using Civitavecchia, Marseille and Barcelona as her starting points and concluding in Warnemunde.

Designing itineraries and selecting ports, MSC Cruises looks at the overall guest experience, Staiano said. Other factors that play in include sailing distances, speeds and fuel consumption.

“We are moving toward a more sustainable model,” he explained, “which could mean itineraries with fewer ports, but we will spend more time in the ports where we call.

“For turnaround ports, we look at how attractive the destinations are, the access both via land and air, sustainability and infrastructure.

“It is a complex process, requiring constant fine-tuning of logistical and operational details, and how we match the turnaround ports to the markets.”

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine Spring 2023

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