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Just when you thought MSC Cruises couldn’t possibly top its current expansion plans, the line has made another announcement. This time, the brand has made clear its intentions to enter the luxury cruising market by signing a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to construct four ultra-luxury ships.
The MOA was signed between MSC and shipbuilding company Fincantieri, with plans to launch the first vessel in spring 2023; the following ships will debut annually through 2026. Each 500-cabin vessel is set to measure approximately 64,000 gross tons. Carrying a presumed double occupancy of 1,000 guests, this puts the new class of vessel’s size closely on par with Crystal’s recently redesigned Crystal Serenity.
MSC has revealed few details about the features of the forthcoming ships, but they will display innovative designs and boast distinct guest amenities and comforts in line with the company’s applauded MSC Yacht Club.“It is off the back of the great success of our ship-within-a-ship luxury concept that our guests asked us to enter into the ultra-luxury segment, as a natural evolution of the MSC Yacht Club,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman for MSC. “These ships will be able to offer unique itineraries, thanks to their size, and the guest services will be taken to another level, including our personalized MSC Yacht Club butler service, available 24/7.”The MSC luxury quartet also promises to utilize the latest and greatest environmental tech and maritime systems. They are valued at about $2.3 billion — and that’s only a small portion of the company’s total of 14 newbuilds on order through 2027. Collectively — along with the recently launched MSC Meraviglia, MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview — the future fleet tallies up to a staggering $15.4 billion in investments.When asked what going full luxury means for MSC clients and overall sales, Ashley Hunter, vice president of business development for Avoya Travel, spoke of high yields.
“MSC Cruises adding a new class of ultra-luxury ships allows travel agents more opportunities to upsell clients looking for a unique and intimate vacation experience,” she said. “The biggest opportunity will be with loyal MSC customers who want to experience the cruise line’s luxury product beyond its all-inclusive Yacht Club. It’s also a great opportunity for agents to take advantage of the growing luxury market.”Roberto Fusaro, country manager for MSC Cruises USA, is similarly excited.“Entering into the ultra-luxury segment is yet another exciting development in our offering,” he said. “From 2023 onward, in addition to our Yacht Club experience, North American guests will enjoy an even wider choice of five-star cruise experiences in the highest segment of the market. Our future ultra-luxury ships will come as close as it comes to a private yacht experience.”Domestically thus far, MSC’s focus has been on the East Coast, with departures heading to the Caribbean, but Hunter is hopeful that the line’s next expansion will translate into a larger presence on the West Coast, as well.“Overall, we’re excited about the continued growth and innovation we are seeing within the cruise industry,” she said. “With so many new ships and unique experiences, Independent Agencies in the Avoya Network have more opportunities to create incredible vacations for travelers.”The DetailsMSC Cruiseswww.msccruisesusa.com