details of press release
Vago: MSC geared up for 50% capacity increase
By the end of 2009 MSC Cruises will have increased its passenger carrying capacity by 50%. In the course of the next 17 months the brand will take delivery of three newbuilds, including two 3,959 (maximum) passenger capacity, and a fourth Musica-class 90,000gt ship, bringing the total fleet to 12 ships. ‘By the end of 2008 we will have the most modern fleet in the world,’ claimed MSC Cruises ceo Pierfrancesco Vago this week during a press conference to celebrate the floating out of MSC Splendida. ‘However I am not in pursuit of leadership related to the number of ships or lower berths but rather in terms of proficiency and service offered to our guests,’ he added.
‘I believe our future success lies in offering an eco-friendly product with high levels of technical efficiency plus no queues for passengers,’ outlined Vago who is paying special attention to these two areas on the new Fantasia-class newbuilds, the biggest the company has ordered so far.
Speaking about the waste management technology on board Vago quipped how amusing that a Neopolitan company is showing the world how to treat garbage.
MSC Fantasia, purpose-built for year-round Med operation, is the first of two newbuilds designed by the brand for this market. ‘We are not looking for the sun but a quality experience which will spread across the board right up to the 99 suits in the VIP MSC Yacht Club.’ With a lead-in price of £1,500 per person Vago believes this all-inclusive product ‘ship within a ship’ offers good value for money and a luxury product for a premium price. ‘It is not our intention to discount on the VIP area’ he told Seatrade Insider, ‘and the children sailing free policy, adopted elsewhere in this ship and fleet-wide will not apply here,’ he confirmed.
Having a much larger ship has also enabled MSC to implement some new ‘firsts’ including a pool with sliding roof, an Aqua Park, a Formula 1 simulator, 4D interactive cinema, squash court, dedicated teenager’s disco and an aft pool adults-only area with bar and a la carte French restaurant.
MSC Fantasia will operate from Genoa starting December 2008 and MSC Splendida, arriving next summer, will sail seven day itineraries in West Med whilst Fantasia switches to East Med in the summer. ‘Having one ship in the West Med and one in the East Med enables us to have our two newest ships on the two main high volume demand itineraries,’ remarked Vago.
He believes there is still huge potential for growth in Europe (both Med and North/Baltics). ‘We are not currently looking to develop new destinations although with 12 ships at the end of next year we will be able to put ships into emerging markets when we believe they are ready to take more capacity.’
Keeping a close eye on making sure queuing does not become an issue on the larger capacity ships both for onboard services and during embarkation/disembarktion, on the latter issue, Vago says he is happy with the way Mediterranean ports are moving both on port side and land side operations, ‘which will be vital with up to 4,000 passengers coming ashore on each visit,’ he added.