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Friday, 29 June, 2018, 16 : 23 PM [IST]

MSC Cruises inducts ‘MSC Seaview’ in its fleet at a grand christening ceremony in Italy

The latest addition to the MSC Cruises fleet, MSC Seaview was christened earlier last month at the Genoa port in Italy. The high-profile christening ceremony saw the presence of VIP guests, key travel partners and top management from MSC Cruises and its parent company, MSC Group. Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Group’s Founder and Executive Chairman as well as the ship Owner, attended the ceremony with the Aponte and Aponte-Vago families. Actress Sophia Loren, Godmother of the MSC fleet, cut the ceremonial ribbon to uncork the bottle of champagne to name MSC Seaview, the 13th mega ship of the MSC fleet.

Sophia Loren (in red), Godmother of the MSC fleet, after the traditional ribbing cutting of the christening ceremony

Kunal Sampat, General Manager – India, MSC Cruises with
Angelo Capurro, Executive Commercial Director, MSC Cruises

Terming India as a “strategic market and not a tactical one”, Switzerland-headquartered MSC Cruises is set to strengthen its distribution network here in India by launching an e-learning programme for the travel trade community. According to Angelo Capurro, Executive Commercial Director, MSC Cruises, “We will be organising roadshows in India and FAM trips for the agent community. Our focus is clearly on driving passenger numbers through the travel trade community. We are looking at improving our distribution network in India, and are designing an e-learning programme specific to the Indian market. The programme has been unveiled for certain markets in Europe. In India, English is not a language barrier for education. We will be rolling out the programme in July.”

Moreover, MSC Cruises is set to bring MSC Lirica to the Indian shores by year end. “India is a strategic market for MSC Cruises, and not a tactical one. We will bring MSC Lirica to India sailing out from Dubai in December. The ship will call on New Mangalore, Goa and Mumbai ports. We have started curating such itineraries to develop our potential markets. The growth from India despite small has been encouraging in the past few years. We plan to match the overall 28% growth of the company in India in the coming years,” Capurro said. One of the difficulties faced by MSC is to deploy a dedicated ship in India, since the company caters to multiple nationalities and does not have a single market-driven focus. “Our difficulty is to design a specific itinerary for India to attract variety of nationalities.

Last month, MSC Cruises inducted MSC Seaview to its fleet, which is the second vessel of the Seaview prototype. The ship will sail in the West Mediterranean region, starting from Genoa to Barcelona and moving on to Naples. “It is an interesting product for the Indian market. In the coming months, MSC Seaview will move to South America, which currently is not a popular destination for Indians, but we have other ships sailing in Maimi that are attractive propositions for Indian guests.”

Dismissing competition from other established players in India, Capurro said, “The product that we have on offer is a long-haul holiday proposition, and not a short cruise, and therefore our business model is completely different from other players operating in the Indian market.”

Throwing light on their business in the Indian market, Kunal Sampat, General Manager – India, MSC Cruises, said, “What is exciting about India is that the opportunities and services we can create for our guests. MSC itineraries are all about affordable luxury. We are able to customise our offerings and experiences according to the needs of our guests. The support from India is encouraging and the addition of new ships will only boost our business and grow the market in India.” According to him, the average age of cruise passenger onboard an MSC ship is 45 years of age, and the past few years have seen growing interest from the MICE segment, special interest and wedding groups from India.

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