MSC Cruises sail from Strength to Strength

The cruise industry has been faring well despite the current gloomy economic environment and the growth in this sector is expected to continue in future.

“MSC Cruises has been performing exceptionally well. As the world’s biggest privately-owned cruise line, and the fourth largest by capacity, the company has seen a 800% growth over the last ten years,” says Allan Foggitt, sales and marketing director for MSC Cruises.

“In 2003, it accommodated a mere 127,000 passengers, while in 2014, it hosted 1.67 million passengers in total. Present in 45 countries around the world, MSC has been voted as the market leader in the Mediterranean, South America and South Africa.”

Locally, Foggitt notes that MSC Cruises is also going from strength to strength.

“Our figures are growing at an incredible rate, when all others are showing a decline. But MSC has never performed better – to date, over 80% of our annual budget has already been achieved, and we are sitting on an occupancy rate of 70%, with many of our cruises already sold out.”

“This is impressive, especially considering that the local cruise season only starts in earnest on 19 November 2015, when MSC Sinfonia arrives in Durban harbour for the first time since it cruised the European summer season in the Mediterranean.”

Factors driving growth

The growth in the industry has been driven by a number of factors – the most influential ones being larger capacity new builds and ship diversification, more destinations and on-board offerings, and the all-inclusive nature of cruising, which offers value for money.

In order to cater for increased capacity, over the last year, MSC Cruises commissioned the €200m Renaissance Programme, where four of the 12 MSC liners, MSC Sinfonia being one of them, were stretched and upgraded with new entertainment options and on-board boutiques, added technological advancements, and an extra 200 cabins, most with their own balconies.

Perpetually evolving to suit customers’ needs, MSC aims to maintain a fresh and appealing offering at all times.

“This year, MSC Cruises has added Cuba and China as new international destinations, while locally, we will be cruising to Ilha de Mozambique for the first time this season.

Over and above the new destinations, there are a number of new and attractive on-board offerings as well.”

Visa regulations

When asked about what factors have hindered the growth of cruising, Foggitt comments that there aren’t many.

“There is no doubt that the new visa application regulations, which require tourists to apply for their visas in person, have hindered tourism to South Africa in general, in particular tourists from China and India.

Luckily however, the vast majority of passengers booked to travel on-board MSC Sinfonia are from South Africa, so this hasn’t really affected our local sales.”

The new immigration laws pertaining to children have posed some problems with local passengers.

“While the new immigration laws pertaining to children are aimed at halting the human trafficking, it has had major implications for the tourism sector, making it more complex for travelling families to meet visa requirements.

The vast majority of MSC’s passengers are families, and so it has most certainly had an impact.”

Source : www.msccruises.co.za


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