MSC Cruises Sail into WTM for the First Time
The Italian-owned company is aiming on maximising exposure at ExCeL London with a large stand in the Global Village area between Monday 12 -Thursday 15 November.
MSC’s decision to attend the world’s leading business to business event comes at a crucial time for the independent operator. Currently boasting a fleet of eight ships, the cruise line expects to add two more in 2008 – the 90,000t MSC Poesia at the start of the year, followed by its revolutionary 133,000t MSC Fantasia in November.
A further two vessels will eventually take the fleet to 12 – MSC Serenata in 2009 and the recently announced MSC Magnifica in 2010.
Fiona Jeffery, Managing Director of World Travel Market said: ”Cruising continues to ride a wave of unprecedented passenger growth and so the news that a major cruise operator like MSC Cruises is participating is significant.”
MSC UK Managing Director Claudia Baino said the operator would have senior staff from all of its European offices in attendance at the event in an effort to meet as many trade representatives as possible.
“World Travel Market is a global marketplace so we will have representatives from offices in Germany and Spain, as well as the UK and our Italian HQ,” she explained.
“MSC is going through a massive expansion programme and the trade – especially agents – is vitally important to us.
“The trade is our target for World Travel Market – we want to work with operators who take allocations and agents who can sell our fly-cruises.
“We know we perhaps don’t have the brand awareness of some of the other cruise lines. We offer something very different and that is what we will be there to sell.”
Baino believes MSC is ideally placed to exploit the huge growth in the European cruise market, especially in the UK, because much of its capacity is in the Mediterranean year round.
Figures from the UK cruising trade body the Passenger Shipping Association reveal the total number of Britons taking a cruise jumped 12% last year to 1.2 million, with total numbers expected to rise to 1.3 million in 2007 and 1.5 million in 2008. Of those UK cruisers in 2006, 40% sailed in the Mediterranean.
“Agents know the value of the cruise market and can see that we have the kind of cruises that will definitely sell,” added Baino.
“Unlike other cruise lines, we make every element of the holiday commissionable, so they really can maximise their earnings from each booking. For fly-cruises we have our own charters to Genoa from the UK, so it is very easy for agents to book with us.”
As well as the increase in capacity, MSC will be keen to get over to World Travel Market visitors how its product differs from rivals.
Product innovation will also be on the agenda, with more details about its planned ‘executive suites’ aboard the 2,500-passenger MSC Fantasia and sister ship MSC Serenata expected to be available.
Both vessels will feature 90 ‘premium’ cabins on restricted executive floors, accessed by a dedicated elevator and serviced by a team of professional butlers.
More down to earth will be details of planned UK departures for MSC Armonia between May and August 2008, which will operate a series of 10 - and 11-night sailings from Dover to the Baltics, Norwegian Fjords and North Cape.
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