MSC will make the cruise market in China even more competitive when the company introduces one of its new vessels there, which could happen in 2017. In early 2017 MSC Cruises also takes delivery of a second vessel from STX France, and 5 more are to follow through 2022. MSC Cruises’ CEO, Gianni Onorato, confirmed that one of their vessels being built from 2017 onward would be for China.
MSC Cruises also announced that the first of a new generation Seaside class of cruise ships, set to debut in November 2017, would be named MSC Seaside and offer year-round sailings from Miami to the Caribbean. In addition, MSC explained that its Miami-based operations would benefit from a newly expanded and renovated dedicated berth and terminal at Port Miami.
Following the delivery of the first cruise ship from the shipyard, MSC Seaside will sail to Miami for the first ever christening ceremony of MSC Cruises in the U.S.A. to take place in late 2017.
According to Gianni Onorato, the Seaside-class ships were part of the $5.3 billion fleet expansion plan of MSC Cruises that would allow the line to double its capacity by 2022.
With a 154,000-ton a gross tonnage and ability to accommodate up to 4,140 passengers at double occupancy, MSC Seaside would be the largest in the MSC fleet, with a brand new water park aboard featuring Slideboarding, Adventure Trail, AquaPlay™& AquaSpray™ and Duelling High-Speed AquaTubes™.
Onorato also said that entering the Chinese market took much care and consideration - a key factor was tonnage in the form of a new ship.
The inaugural Grand Voyage of MSC this year to Asia and Australia from Dubai signaled line’s entry into the booming Asian market. On February 20 MSC Orchestra left Dubai with an onboard event for press, VIPs and press and other invited guests in Singapore, early March. All of the 13 ports of call on the Grand Voyage of MSC Orchestra are firsts for MSC Cruises.
More interesting is the joint venture travel agency of MSC and Shanghai International Port Group - China’s largest port operator.
Last year, the Shanghai entity was first in line between joint venture travel agencies to enter the pilot free trade zone of Shanghai. According to a spokesperson for MSC, they were proud to have been granted a license to sell outbound travel packages as only four non-Chinese companies in China had been granted such a license. In the future, they might use it for other projects, such as inbound cruises, charters, themed activities and more.