It’s Different This Time; MSC’s Return to Year-Round Caribbean
the return to year-round Caribbean cruising and the recent announcement that it
will develop a private Bahamian island, it’s a significant time for MSC, the
world’s largest privately-held cruise line.
Divina now homeporting in Miami and the line’s newest, biggest shipMSC
Seaside arriving in late2017,
MSC is ramping upits efforts to
court the North American cruise market.
good news is that retail leaders saycustomers
are responding more positively to the product than they did to the brand’s 1st
different this time?
“They’ve improved the service,” says Michelle Fee, President & CEO of
Cruise Planners. “Before, this ship travelled in and out of the U.S. Now every
time youtake staff on board,
they are used to catering to the North American market.”
Fee says staff would previously cater to Europeans on onesailing, North Americans on another.
“I think it mixed them up a little bit. Now, for the 1st time,they’ve been in this market for a
while and service has improved, and that’s attractingrepeats. Our sales are doing very well
Week’s Art Sbarsky recentlysailed on Divina’s Eastern Caribbean itinerary.“MSC Divinais like a floating Italian island in a region where such a
thing doesn’t exist.There are
islands of Dutch, French, English, Spanish and American orientation but nothingItalian. So the ship fulfills a niche
for year-round Miami sailings,” Sbarsky says.
Sbarsky’s cruise carried 3,852 pax (max. cap. 4,345) with about 60% from the
U.S. and Canada, the other 40% an even split between U.K., German and Spanish
origin. Senior officers were mostly Italian, but crew are from 52 different
a very lively ship, both inside and outside, with a positive, energetic vibe,”
says Sbarsky. “The sizeplays a
role here. Gross tonnage is at 139,400, with a space ratio at 40 and guest/crew
at2.5, both of which fit comfortably
in the large ship range.
“The ship was never overwhelmed on the 3 days at sea, perhaps because
activitiesranging from dance
classes to language lessons were all well attended. The pools do get crowded on
sea days, but adjacent areas and the upper level seemedto have lounge chairs all day long.”
says signature elements of the MSC experience can be found in the areas of
entertainment and dining.
“In chatting with vacationers on board, the 2 things mentioned most often as highlightswere the entertainment and the
buffets, especially those for lunch, dinner and late night,featuring lots of Italian items. Every
show Iwent to was performed
before a very large, enthusiastic audience with standing ovations atevery show.”
MSC caters to its international crowd with largely non-verbal shows, held in
the 1,600-seat Pantheon Theater, which the linesays is the largest showroom at sea.
“While most of the songs overall are sung inEnglish,
there’s an Italian night, a French show and loosely-themed Swing and TreasureIsland shows. Plus, various
acrobat/novelty acts appeal equally to all nationalities.”
says that while the main dining room features a wide range of Italian dishes
there are also plenty of non-Italian items.
up, Sbarsky says MSC Divinamay not be as feature-driven as some
of the newer ships fromNorwegian
or Royal Caribbean. “But it’s got everything couples or families could need for
anItalian-themed vacation. And
from insides to the Yacht Club, prices are very competitive toboot.”