MSC Cruises will soon be starting a 11 day long cruise from Dubai which will touch New Mangalore, Mumbai and Goa in India this year end. The cruise company will deploy MSC Lirica, one of its oldest ships, on this itinerary.
The global cruise brand recently unveiled its latest product MSC Seaview, the largest ship to be built in Italy, at Genova. At a grand christening ceremony here, famed actress Sophia Loren, who is godmother to all MSC ships, cut the ribbon to open the ship to the public.
Speaking on the sidelines of the christening, Angelo Capurro, executive commercial director, MSC Cruises said, “There is an incredible wow effect when we see our ships. First we had MSC Meraviglia, then in Nov 2017 we had MSC Seaside and now her sister ship, MSC Seaview. So we have had three ships in one year and that is something amazing for us. The prototype of the Seaside and Seaview ships is different from our other ships in terms of design, exteriors, and the features of these ships.”
MSC Seaview will deployed for summer in Western Mediterranean (Genova, Barcelona and Naples) and Eastern Mediterranean (Venice). Capurro added, “This is pretty interesting for the India market as these itineraries are popular with Indian guests. Later MSC Seaview will move to South America, not exactly a common destination for India market looking at the numbers now. But we have a sister ship out of Miami and on that we will be focusing more for the India market.”
He also pointed out that the new cruise starting out of Dubai is a trial to develop the India market. “I believe that the potential for the India market is huge. Starting this year MSC Lirica will be deployed for a 11 day long cruise out of Dubai which will call on Indian ports. Compared to our competitors, we have a culture to have different nationalities on our ships. On an average, we have nearly 117 nationalities on our ships. This is part of our DNA. The atmosphere aboard our ships is truly international. The cruising experience is completely different because of this diversity,” Capurro stated.
MSC is working with the local market in India with Kunal Sampat, general manager, spearheading the effort. “We are working on increasing awareness about our product and are doing FAM trips for trade and media to explain our product. We are a very young fleet, all our ships are not more than 15 years old vis a vis other cruise companies. This is the information we want to pass on to our customer, the kind of quality that we have,” informed Capurro.
He said that India is not a huge number at present but growth in the last year is really important. “For us India is a market where we want to grow much more than what we did in the last year. We are looking at a growth of at least 28 per cent in the company keeping in mind the capacity, so we need to grow in India at least 28 per cent, not less. With eight new ships from now to 2020, MSC Cruises needs to discover new areas, new destinations. For sure we will be reinforcing our present markets where we have our ships deployed, but we are also looking at new areas and India should be one of them. India is a strategic market for us, not a tactical one. We have a different product and we are not looking at short cruises,” he stated.
Commenting on the port infrastructure challenges in India, Capurro said, “We are moving in the right direction. We have started discussions with the cruise industry. Looking at India as a port of call, the challenge is not the infrastructure, it is the itinerary. We have passengers coming from all over the world so the difficulty is in designing itineraries which are in line with the demands of these passengers.”