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With innovative new ships launching and the legendary Sophia Loren returning to take on godmother duties, MSC Cruises’ country manager Ian Patterson describes 2022 as “another milestone year” for the cruise line.
This December will see the debut of MSC Cruises’ first LNG-powered ship, MSC World Europa, the first of the World Class ships, as well as MSC Seascape, featuring the largest “ship within a ship” MSC Yacht Club concept.
“The iconic Sophia Loren is set to reprise her role as godmother and star-studded events will help welcome these ships to our modern and innovative fleet,” Patterson tells Travel Courier. “Next year we will launch our second LNG-powered ship, MSC Euribia, the most environmentally advanced ship to date. We’re proud to be on the forefront of innovation and sustainability, providing guests with cruise options, while taking care of our planet. We are actively engaged in the development of next generation environmental technology to achieve net carbon neutral operations by 2050 and eventually net zero emissions across all operations.”
As for booking trends, Patterson notes there’s been an uptick in reservations for cruises, both new bookings as well as guests re-using their FCCs from previously cancelled sailings in recent months. He attributes the growth to the extension of the Cruise with Confidence program up to July 2022, which allows guests the flexibility to change their cruise up until 48 hours before departure.
“We’ve noticed booking patterns change with many travellers looking to either reserve their cruise in the next 90 days or book their travels six to nine months out or longer. Now that we have added air to our packages, we are seeing further growth in bookings through to next winter,” he adds. “Along with established trends of families, multi-generational and special interest groups, there is a growing number of guests looking to book a cruise for the first time, especially closer in.”
To cater to the demand of longer cruises, MSC Cruises has announced its next world cruise aboard MSC Poesia, on offer for $15,000.
Although there has been more interest in shorter cruises, he says 7-day cruises remain the gold standard for what Canadians are booking.
“We’ve learned from our Canadian guests that they enjoy being taken care of from the moment they arrive at the airport to the time they reach their travel destination,” he says. “That is why we’ve introduced our winter 2022-2023 Fly & Cruise program. This program checks all their boxes providing the added service and convenience travellers value, such as chartered flights, private transfers between the airport and MSC ports along with guests’ choice of cabin accommodations.”
The cruise line also recently added Port Canaveral as a new home port for MSC Divina in Florida and is offering 10 per cent bonus commission for summer 2022 sailings.
“We’ve announced MSC Meraviglia, which will call New York City home in April 2023 with sailings to the Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada New England, visiting Sydney, Halifax, Saint John and Charlottetown in the fall,” he says.
Patterson stresses that MSC Cruises recognizes the leading role travel advisors play in assisting guests with their bookings and they’re striving to have its bilingual contact centre team handle inquiries more effectively and are adding additional team members so wait times are reduced.
“With MSC Cruises, almost everything is commissionable for travel agents, from the flight and cruise to all onboard services such as dining, spa and excursions,” he says. “We release added incentives for our partners regularly for packages. With our Fly & Cruise program, we’re offering 10 per cent commission on the full airfare and transfer rate, as well as a promo to receive a bonus three per cent commission of the cruise component.”
Looking to the future, Patterson says sustainability is at the forefront for the cruise line.
“We strive to continuously improve our fleet’s environmental performance, ensure that our impact on the coastal communities that we reach remains positive and source products and services that are sustainable,” he says.
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