MSC Cruises Expands Fleet, North American Itineraries & Exclusive Club Cabins

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MSC Preziosa, set to sail in 2013

MSC Cruises was founded in 1990 by owner and chairman, Gianluigi Aponte. It has since grown into a fleet of 11 ships, with a 12th set to debut in Marseilles in late May, and just days ago they announced that ship #13 will join the fleet in 2013. MSC sails the Mediterranean throughout the year, offering seasonal sailings through Northern Europe, the Atlantic, Caribbean, South America, Indian Ocean, Africa and the Emirates. The cruise line also announced plans to bring more ship to North America for longer periods of the year, with sailings out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Aside from their large cosmopolitan ships (hosting between 1,500 and 3,500 pax) and attractive ports including Crete, Barcelona and Ibiza, the company offers the utmost in luxury cruising with the MSC Yacht Club—a ship-within-a-ship concept aboard the Fantasia class. It is devised as an entirely self-contained private club area on the foredecks of the ship offering approximately 70 superior suites including butler service, a private restaurant and lounge, an exclusive swimming pool and private lift access to the ultra-soothing MSC Aurea Spa.

“It’s totally inclusive, totally exclusive, totally private and totally luxurious,” says Richard E. Sasso, president/CEO of MSC Cruises (USA). “The Yacht Club gives groups the best of both worlds. It gives privacy, exclusivity and luxury but also gives them the big showroom, casino and entertainment.”

Yet another attractive feature is the company’s concern for the environment.

“We win awards for our greenness,” says Sasso. “We are a very green company. And everything I tell you is even more compelling because we’re a private company.”

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MSC Divina, set to sail in May 2012

What makes MSC stand out in its class?

Richard Sasso: We have been the fastest growing cruise line in the industry for quite some time. And we’ve grown faster than any cruise line in the history of cruising. We’ve grown 800 percent in the last eight years. No one has ever done that in the history of our business that fast. I think it’s an indication that we are very committed to the business.

The further indication is that we’re not done yet because we just signed for another ship last night. We announced it this morning for the first time.

Where will the ship sail from?

We haven’t told anyone where she’s going but we have the Divina coming in two months, and that will go to Venice to do the Greek Islands and Turkey. The one we signed last night will be delivered in 2013.

We just want this to serve as a wake-up call. We want to tell people, ‘It ain’t over yet.’

Central to that, we’ve always been a European operator. We came to America with one ship for five months but now we’re escalating our plans to bring more ships to North America. So North America is going to get more attention.

We’re sending a ship this December to Santo Domingo and to Guadaloupe to cover that region. We’re bringing bigger ships here in 2013 and 2014, and then we’re bringing even more ships.

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