At the Seatrade cruise trade show and conference earlier this month in Ft. Lauderdale, the top brass of MSC Cruises was on hand to outline an ambitious game plan that doubles the size of its fleet and triples its passenger capacity from the current 1.8 million passengers a year to more than 5 million annual passengers by 2026.
Notably, all of the new ships coming online will be next-generation smartships: The sleek new MSC Meraviglia debuts a new class of 5,714-passenger ships in June, MSC Seaside will launch in Miami in December as the first in a new class of 5,179-passenger ships, followed by a Meraviglia Plus class of 6,297-passenger megaships starting in 2019 and a World class of ships starting in 2022.
What they all have in common is a new set of technologies — rolling out starting in June — that will put MSC Cruises at the forefront of the next generation of smartships. And Swiss-based MSC is betting big that its European stylings, world-class entertainment plus state-of-the-art tech will attract millions of new customers in North America; currently, only 10 percent of MSC’s overall passengers are from North America.
“North America here we come!” MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago declared to the assembled travel writers at Seatrade.