MSC Cruises currently has the largest number of new cruise ships on order of any cruise line in the world, a total investment worth more than €10.5 billion! The cruise line definately has ambition growth plans and that includes the United Kingdom.
Antonio Paradiso, who is the Managing Director for MSC Cruises in the UK & Ireland was kind enough to take part in this CRUISE Q&A interview with us and talks about his ambitious plans to make MSC Cruises one of the top three cruise lines in the UK.
Can you give us a brief history of MSC Cruises?
MSC Cruises as we know it now was started around 15 years ago by the seafaring Aponte family. The first ship in the fleet was MSC Lirica which entered service in 2003. We currently have 14 ships in our fleet of 5 different prototypes. We remain family owned and treasure all the traditions that come along with this. For example just this week we announced that our pioneering in cabin personal assistant would be called Zoe, after a member of the Aponte family. It’s important to us as we innovate to still honour the traditions that make us unique.
When did you start working for MSC Cruises?
I started working for MSC Cruises in Naples in 2008. My first role was as Commercial Manager for Germany, Switzerland and Austria and my main role was to make sure MSC Cruises presence increased in those countries. I’m proud that we are now a major player in those markets and I like to think I started that journey 10 years ago.
What has been your most memorable experience so far working for MSC Cruises?
When I came to MSC Cruises UK & Ireland I had 3 major ambitions. The first was to bring a ship to Southampton for a full season which we did with MSC Magnifica this year, the second was to launch a ship in the UK, and earlier this year we announced that MSC Bellissima would be christened in Southampton in March 2019 and finally to become one of the UK’s top three cruise lines – whilst that is still something I’m working towards my most memorable experience was announcing the Bellissima christening – I am just so proud.
Do you have a favourite cruise destination?
I’ve visited over 105 countries so I have so many to pick from however my family are from Naples so I will have to go for Naples. It’s an amazing destination as the city itself is beautiful so if you don’t want to go far there’s so much to explore in the city itself or if you want to venture further afield there’s beautiful places such as Capri or Sorrento just a few hours away. Or if history is more your thing you can visit Pompeii. There really is something for everyone.
Who should cruise with MSC Cruises?
I’m a huge believer that there is a cruise for everyone, you just have to find it. For the explorer, our itineraries are quite port intensive, MSC Seaview for example goes to 6 ports in 7 days, or if you love music and entertainment we have live music, dancing and shows in all venues across our ships. For the foodies we have amazing chef partnerships with the likes of Roy Yamaguchi and pastry chef Jean-philippe Maury, and are always seeking to provide our passengers with new and exciting cusine. Just last week we announced a brand new partnership with Michelin starred Spanish chef Ramon Freixa.
MSC Cruises launched 2 new ships last year, just how many more new ships are on the way?
We have an investment plan totalling 10.5 billion euros and the biggest order book of any cruise line in the world. The investment will see our fleet double in size and by 2026 we will have a fleet of 24 ships. Blogger ShipMonk said that MSC stands for More Ships Coming and it really does.
Can you tell us a little more about the exciting plans to christen MSC Bellisima in Southampton?
As I mentioned above this has been my proudest moment. We are of course still making all our plans but I can promise that the 3 day celebrations, which will include ship visits for over 3,000 UK and Irish media, travel agents and consumers and a huge event featuring live music from celebrity guests will be the highlight will not be a disappointment. There is of course then the opportunity for UK guests to be the first to sail on the ship on the inaugural voyage from Southampton to Genoa, which is on sale now.
Can you tell us a little bit about the giant new World Class ships?
You’re right, the world class ships are going to be big, with over 2,760 cabins and a maximum occupancy of 6,850. The ships will be delivered in 2022 and 2024 and we have options for a further two ships in 2025 and 2026. Always good to have options in such a rapidly expanding industry.