Tuesday, 1 April 2014

MSC maintains market presence and touts return to ex-UK

MSC maintains market presence and touts return to ex-UK

MSC maintains market presence and touts return to ex-UK
MSC Cruises is maintaining capacity in the UK market despite withdrawing departures from Southampton after this year.
The Italian line is concentrating on fly-Med sailings in 2015 with dedicated charter flights to serve five ships from Venice and its two biggest vessels MSC Fantasia and Preziosa sailing year-round from Barcelona and Genoa.
Regional connecting flights will be commissionable at 5%.
But UK, Ireland and Australia executive director Giles Hawke (pictured) does not rule out a return to ex-UK cruises in the future.
Hawke, speaking ahead of the 2015/16 programme going on sale on Wednesday - the earliest date ever - revealed that the company aims to more than triple UK passenger numbers from 60,000 this year to 200,000 by 2017.
He would not be drawn on when or if MSC would return to ex-UK departures, but said there would be eight calls in either Southampton or Dover next year which will allow agents to make ship visits.
"We will more than replace our ex-UK capacity with our fly-Med programme," he said, indicating that MSC would be the biggest player in the sector in 2015 with departures covering both the western and eastern Mediterranean.
The company has taken 500 pre-registrations from consumers ahead of the on-sale date and expects strong trade support, with early booking offers such as discounts of up to £200 off the brochure price and free cabin upgrades for bookings made between April and June.
Prices lead in at £499 per person based on a seven-night fly-cruise from Barcelona on newest ship MSC Preziosa on December 6, 2015.
Other options include the first ship with upgraded MSC Yacht Club facilities - MSC Splendida - sailing in northern Europe.
Hawke said: "I believe we will return to ex-UK cruising but first we want to build the brand and consumer demand to justify us having one of our biggest ships operating out of Southampton.
"We want to build a brand that the consumer understands and one that commands the kind of prices it deserves."
MSC Opera is being withdrawn to be stretched in size alongside three other Lirica-class ships following this year's season of departures from Southampton.