The ramifications of the recent recession are showing up again in the cruise industry, this time with the MSC Cruises line.
Although the company launched the MSC Splendida last Sunday and will take delivery of MSC Magnifica next March, it is likely that MSC will put expansion on hold for the time being until the economy starts to show signs of recovery.
“We could expand quickly, and this was our intention,” said Gianluigi Aponte, chairman of Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Company, according to FT.com. “But the present economic situation has dictated a little bit of prudence, and obviously we are not ordering ships for the time being... It is difficult theses days to imagine growth in any of our businesses, until we see signs of economic recovery.”
Along with the chartered ships, MSC is finding that the container line is experiencing some hard times as well. Aponte suggested that because of the recession and the container-shipping slump it caused, it had to shift focus from expanding to absorbing ships it had on order.
MSC got rid of the ships by scrapping and handing back chartered ships once its leases expired.
"When the crisis hit, there were not many alternatives," Aponte said, told FT.com. "The first was to scrap older vessels. Many of our vessels were older than 30 years, so were due to be scrapped anyway. The crisis means that they will not automatically be replaced, and that we just use time charter vessels when needed."
To combat the container line issues, Aponte has decided to increase the size of the ships, keeping the same capacity but having fewer ships in the fleet.