Saturday, 6 September 2014

Updated: MSC bundles amenities in the cruise fare

Updated: MSC bundles amenities in the cruise fare

MSC Divina 410MSC Cruises unveiled a new pricing structure that bundles cabin categories, dining choices and onboard amenities in four commissionable packages.

In a Travel Weekly webinar, Ken Muskat, executive vice president of sales, outlined the four options, called Inclusive Experiences, that range from a la carte to all-inclusive. The fare types will be available for sale starting Sept. 23, for cruises departing on or after Oct. 18.
"This is not an add-on package; this is a new pricing that is an all-inclusive or a semi-inclusive experience," Muskat said.

With the new concept,  Muskat said, agents can direct clients to one of the four options, either by choosing a cabin category, which would identify which experience they'd receive, or, more likely, identifying the client's desired level of inclusivity, which would then identify the type of cabin.
The Bella Experience, which Muskat said was best for value-conscious clients, is simply the cabin cost, and is available on cabin categories I1, O1 and B1. Cruisers can then add amenities on an a la carte basis.

The Fantastica, which applies to I2, O2 and B2 cabins, includes premium-location cabins, half off fitness classes and personal training, two kids classes and various MSC promotions such as beverage packages (the program will start by offering complimentary sodas, wine, beer and coffee on cruises on Divina cruises through April 11). Muskat said it would cost between $30 and $60 more per person and represent a value of at least $250 per person.

The next-highest category is the Aurea, on cabin categories B3 and S3, which includes unlimited drinks, priority boarding, a spa package and designated areas for My Choice dining. Muskat said it costs about $400 more per person and represents a value of at least $600.

The top package is the Yacht Club package, which is MSC's ship-within-a-ship luxury experience. Muskat described it as "ultimate, VIP, five-star service." It includes items like 24-hour butler service and the Yacht Club's exclusive restaurant, pool, deck and bar.

MSC earlier this summer said it would begin paying 5% commission on cruise add-ons booked prior to the cruise. Muskat emphasized that the policy would remain in place.

"This now allows agents to take it a step further once a client is qualified and suggest an experience that is truly tailored to their vacation desires and their budget," Muskat said in a follow-up email. "Once an experience is selected, the process is easy, because there are certain stateroom categories assigned to each experience level.

"For instance, a budget-conscious guest will want to choose from interior, ocean view or balcony staterooms within the Bella experience .... the Fantastica experience is designed for the vast majority of cruisers who are willing to pay just slightly more than the intro Bella experience and get the benefit of selecting from the best of the best stateroom locations, priority dining preferences and more."
Guests who have already booked an interior, oceanview, or B1 or B2 level balcony stateroom will automatically receive the Fantastica experience, excluding the promotional drink package, MSC said.

Guests who have already booked a B3 level balcony stateroom or Aurea suite will automatically receive the Aurea experience.