PHOTO: MSC Cruises' MSC Preziosa. (photo via Flickr/roland.gruber99)
CORRECTION: MSC Meraviglia will homeport from North America year-round but not necessarily Miami, as originally reported, except for its inital Winter 2019-20 season from Florida.
At a press conference held at Seatrade Cruise Global, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises Pierfrancesco Vago clearly outlined how, “MSC wants to become mainstream.”
The line’s means of doing so is to expand well beyond its Mediterranean roots and to begin taking more serious hold in the North American market with three ships sailing from Miami by 2019.
The MSC Divina is already sailing from the Floridian homeport year-round but will soon be joined by the MSC Seaside in December 2017 and a now-confirmed MSC Meraviglia, (not just an unknown Meraviglia-class vessel, in 2019). By that time, the Seaside and Meraviglia will deploy from North America all throughout the year, with the Divina staying in the Caribbean only during the winter months before returning to Europe in the summertime.
Currently, only 10 percent of MSC’s overall passengers are North American, but it has aspirations to draw many more. As a private company, its investments are not tied to stockholders, freeing it to commit plenty towards consumer marketing and trade partner relations.
In fact, Roberto Fusaro, President of MSC North America, said he is intent on making the company the easiest for agents to work with so both parties can be more profitable together.
Part of that commitment is guest innovation with programs like MSC for Me, the newly named interactive technology, (not unlike Carnival Corporation’s Ocean Medallion).
MSC’s version of the wearable mobile app tech will launch before during June 2017 with the MSC Meraviglia, initially in the Mediterranean. It focuses first and foremost on the guest experience—championed by MSC CEO, Gianni Onorato—not only via hardware but software as well.
READ MORE: Exclusive Interview with MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato
Besides the Meraviglia and Seaside—which will initially debut MSC for Me—the line has also announced it will roll the technology back to the entire fleet, the existing Divina included, beginning in 2019 and extending though individual ship refurbishment schedules. Some features will be added while they are in operation with others more robustly installed during dry-dock procedures.
Also, Cirque du Soleil at Sea programming will be showcased aboard four Meraviglia-class ships, including the one coming to Miami. In total, there will be eight exclusive shows hosted onboard the quartet in a multipurpose venue that can accommodate 400 guests, up to 100 of which can be served meals during performances.
READ MORE: Shipyard Preview: MSC Cruises’ New MSC Seaside Under Construction
As for Rick Sasso, Chairman of MSC North America, he believes that all of this fulfills a promise long delivered to elevate the guest experience aboard its ships as the line continues to expand. After all, if the plans are successful, it’s very likely that there will eventually be more than three ships in North America.
Beyond the Meraviglia and Seaside, more are scheduled internationally from each class of ship as well as another new World-class prototype of vessels, any of which could also make their way to domestic shores. In fact, Sasso even mentioned the northeast and west coast as potential future destinations.
The MSC Meraviglia is designed as an all-weather ship, so it makes sense that it could easily head to Canada and New England, or even Alaska. Meanwhile, the MSC Seaside is dedicated to following the sun with ample deck space and waterslides—it's likely to stay put in the Caribbean.