Innovation and personalization were recurring themes at an MSC Cruises trade event at Manhattan’s Union League Club on Monday afternoon. Calling the line’s newest ship, the MSC Meraviglia, a “game changer,” Roberto Fusaro, MSC’s president-North America, spoke enthusiastically about the ship’s 2019 New York and Miami sailings.
Following a September 21, 2019, 17-night transatlantic voyage from Kiel, Germany, to New York (via Copenhagen, Southamption, Belfast, Reykjavik, Halifax and St. John, New Brunswick), Meraviglia will sail from Manhattan on 10-night “Coastal Canada” and “Canada & New England” cruises (on October 8 and 18, respectively), and a 13-night “Deep South Caribbean” itinerary, departing October 28. The latter cruise will conclude in Miami, which will then become the ship's new home port.
Among the features of the new ship touted by Fusaro are its private “ship-within-a ship” MSC Yacht Club (complete with butler service), five age-specific children’s programs, unlimited drinks throughout the ship, an LED “Sky at Sea” dome that changes “every hour or so” and two Cirque du Soleil shows customized exclusively for Meraviglia. The latter is an example of how, Fusaro told the audience, MSC partners with other brands.
“We don’t subtract … we control the operations” for MSC’s ships, he said.
Fusaro also emphasized that the family-friendly line is a family-owned company. “We care for people. We always look for what’s best for them,” he added.
MSC, which Fusaro noted has grown into the fourth largest cruise company worldwide in just over a decade, has plans for further expansion. A total of 12 new ships will triple the line’s capacity by 2026: Four Meraviglia- and Meraviglia Plus-class ships, four Seaside and Seaside EVO vessels, and four World Class ships.
As previously reported, MSC recently took delivery of its new flagship, the MSC Seaside, the second newbuild cruise ship for the line this year following the June 3 christening of MSC Meraviglia. The latter has a capacity for about 4,400 passengers, double occupancy, and 5,700 total, making it slightly larger than Seaside.
Loyalty Status Match Program, FAMs
Joe Jiffo, MSC’s senior vice president of sales for North America, took the podium to talk about the line’s Loyalty Status Match Program. If your clients belong to a loyalty program of other travel brands (cruise lines and hotels), they can join the MSC Voyagers Club for free and receive the matching status card, guaranteeing them a 5 percent discount on any booking plus benefit status similar to the other companies’ programs.
For agents, MSC is planning to offer FAM cruises in 2018 as well as weekly ship inspections for agents when the MSC Meraviglia relocates to Miami, he said.
Jiffo also touted the two news ships’ MSC and Me digital technology, designed to interconnect guests, ship and crew for maximum guest enjoyment, including booking services for restaurants, excursions and spa session. It also includes a kids’ locator – a wristband they wear that is connected to the parents’ app so they know at all times where their kids are onboard the ship.
Bonnie Levengood, senior vice president, marketing for MSC, noted that MSC Meraviglia will be featured in national advertising campaigns on TV, billboards and other media. For the agents in attendance, she touted the MSC Academy specialist course, which includes a rewards program. The course is hosted on travelagentuniversity.com and can also be accessed at www.mscacademy.com.