PHOTO: MSC Cruises' MSC Splendida (photo courtesy of MSC Cruises).
MSC Cruises continues to sharpen its focus on the Chinese market.
The Swiss-based cruise line announced Wednesday that as of May 2018 the MSC Splendida will deploy to China.
The ship, which entered service in 2009 and can accommodate more than 4,360 guests, will instantly become one of the largest and most modern cruise ships in the region, according to MSC Cruises.
MSC Splendida is also the sister ship to MSC Fantasia.
"Deploying MSC Splendida to the shores of China is a further testimony of our commitment to this key growth market," said MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato during a press conference in Beijing this week. "In fact, since it came into service, MSC Splendida has been the most popular ship for Chinese and other Asian guests cruising the Mediterranean with us."
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"MSC Splendida represents a second, strong step towards meeting the growing demand for our unique product and ultra-modern ships by Chinese guests," Onorato added. "She will also undergo significant dry-dock enhancement in late 2017, ahead of her deployment, to further improve and customize her already amazing range of services."
In less than two years' time MSC Splendida will join MSC Lirica, which has been operating in the China market since this past spring. Currently, MSC Lirica is serving the North China market out of Tianjin for the winter season.
MSC Cruises will reveal MSC Splendida's itinerary details at a later date, but said the ship will visit popular cruise destinations throughout China, Japan and Korea.
Wednesday's announcement comes one month after MSC Cruises confirmed the opening of a new brand office in Shanghai and appointed industry veteran Helen Huang to lead its expansion efforts in the market as the president of MSC Greater China.
MSC Cruises expansion in China comes as the market experiences a boom that cruise lines around the globe are aiming to capitalize on in the coming years.