New ships, new trips

In the late 1980s, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) gathered its experience in container shipping and made an entry into a sector that was then rapidly gaining popularity: cruise liners. The same dedication, reliability, ambition and innovation that led it to being one of the world’s largest container shippers also saw it achieve huge success in the cruise industry; over the course of a decade, MSC Cruises grew its business by 800 per cent. Today it is the fourth largest cruise line and the biggest privately owned cruise company in the world.

“We offer our guests a huge and dynamic range of destinations,” says managing director Giulio Libutti about the extent of the company’s services. “We make people travel because we are travellers ourselves. That’s our secret. We are proud to accompany them in the discovery of the world. MSC Cruises is in fact the market leader in the Mediterranean, South Africa and Brazil. Recently MSC Cruises has introduced the French Antilles and Red Sea as new destinations for the 2012-2013 winter seasons, widening the choice for our guests.”

The ongoing success of MSC Cruises follows on from a nearly six billion euro investment programme that, beginning in 2003, saw a complete renewal of its fleet with state-of-theart vessels. These 12 ships represent some of the most groundbreaking vessels in the world including its Fantasia class, featuring MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida, which are the largest ships ever ordered by a European ship owner. Both are 139,000 DWT and built by STX France with the Fantasia delivered in 2009 and Splendida in 2009. Two more ships in this series are to be added over the next year: MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa. The former will be christened in Marseille on 26th May 2012 whilst the latter will be delivered in 2013.

“The 12 ships comprising our ultra-modern fleet will carry over 1.4 million guests in 2012,” says Giulio. “This number is expected to climb to over 1.5 million in 2013. With the launch of MSC Divina around the corner and the brand new MSC Preziosa to be delivered next year, the company’s overall berth capacity in 2013 would exceed 40,200 berths. This corresponds to an overall company growth of 800 per cent in ten years.”

A company of the size and success seen by MSC Cruises will face challenges equally as imposing. At the forefront of these is ensuring that the expectations guests have of a MSC Cruise are met. “We always strive not only to meet but to exceed their expectations by offering them the highest quality,” Giulio says. Several different approaches are taken in achieving quality from ensuring each vessel is well kept andmaintained to enriching its itinerary through exploring new destinations and diversifying what is on offer.

“We are also always doing our best to pragmatically contain operating costs (on which highly volatile fuel prices have a considerable impact) and are able to do so mainly through economies of scale,” the managing director adds. “Our core goal is a stable, secure and efficient operating environment complemented by modern structures, run by an appropriate regulatory framework. With this in mind, we are of course doing our best to put the guests and their dreams at the centre of all our strategies.”

MSC Cruises’ high standards are applied not only to its own operations but also to its suppliers as well. Because it operates in every continent of the world, the company’s supplier network is necessarily huge so it must be able to rely on every one involved. Therefore as a very basic MSC Cruises can rely on its partners’ global service ability and capability of guaranteed delivery around the world across long-term relationships. Moreover, it is important that a supplier can work with MSC Cruises to develop innovative solutions to any potential issues. This determined approach has been crucial to the cruise line’s success.

As ongoing investment and ten years of consistent growth suggest, business for MSC Cruises has been outstanding. The cruise industry as a whole performed impressively even during the recession and Giulio credits this to its flexibility and forward thinking: “It’s our responsibility as an industry to carefully asses the situation and be prepared to rise to its challenges. However, I believe that so far the cruise industry has reacted with exemplary resilience to such environments with a flexibility and mobility that land-based resorts can only dream of.”

He goes on to conclude that the future holds many exciting prospects for MSC Cruises. “We are currently market leader in the Mediterranean, South Africa and Brazil, but we are now really excited that we have recently introduced French Antilles and the Red Sea as new destinations for the 2012 – 2013 winter seasons. This will contribute to our ambition as a leading cruise company to become the selected choice for holidaymakers of all nations that want to savour authentic experiences cruising all corners of the world.”

Expanding fleet and destinations
Cutting edge ships
Impressive long-term growth figures