New ship MSC Seaview has become MSC Cruises’ best-selling ship in the UK for 2018 as the line aims to increase its British customer base to 10% by 2020.

The proportion of MSC guests from the UK has increased from 3% in 2015 to 7% currently.

UK and Ireland managing director Antonio Paradiso said he is aiming to reach 10% by 2020.

The line hosted 65 UK agents on MSC Seaview last weekend for its christening ceremony in Genoa. It is the third ship the line has launched in the past year and takes the fleet to 15 vessels.

It is a sister ship to MSC Seaside, which launched last year and is based in Miami.

“Seaside has turned heads in Miami so I’m looking forward to Seaview sailing to Rome and Barcelona to impress the Med,” said Paradiso.

“Seaview is the best-selling ship in the UK for us for 2018. Every time you launch a ship it drives volumes and draws attention.

“UK guests were at 3% three years ago, now they make up 7%, so I’m aiming for 10% – and I believe the new ships will allow me to reach that goal by 2020.”

Asked about his sales strategy, Paradiso said he aimed to maintain a 50:50 split between online specialists and high street retailers.

“We’ve been working hard with agents and have seen double-digit growth across the board,” he said.

“The high street has a different relationship with customers, while the cruise specialists are more engaged online and help raise brand awareness.

“I would like to keep the same balance because with all the capacity coming, we need both.”

Paradiso said working with the right agents, who believed in the brand, was the priority over volume.

Prices have increased 20% in the last couple of years and would continue to rise, Paradiso said.

“We reward the early bookers. If customers buy one or two years ahead they should be entitled to a good price. I tend to avoid last-minute bargains because slashing prices isn’t good for the industry.

“In the long term, prices will be going up, and this is linked to the new ships we have coming.

“Hopefully, guests are willing to pay more to sail on beautiful ships packed full of new features.”

Agents on MSC seaview

torey-kings-hodkin
“What struck me was the abundance of outdoor space. I loved the speciality dining area with its own bar – having everything in one place gave it a really premium feel.”

Torey Kings-Hodkin, Thomas Cook

brighton-claire“MSC Seaview is a stunning ship. The food, service and facilities were excellent. My favourite area was the light and airy atrium.”

Claire Brighton, Advantage Travel Partnership

Comment: Seaview has luxury design but lacks Italian cuisine

From the chrome, white and silver interiors, to the Swarovski staircases, MSC Seaview is unashamedly modern Italian in design, and feels much more like a luxury ship than anything mainstream.

Activities, such as the bowling alley, 4D cinema and an F1 racing simulator, are more tucked away than on other ships, where they are the central draw, while some of the most charming features are spread around the ship, such as the Ocean Cay fish restaurant or the Venchi chocolate bar with treats beautifully displayed in glass cabinets.

It’s a shame MSC does not make more of its Italian culture in the culinary stakes. There is an Asian kitchen and American steakhouse, but no dedicated fresh pasta bar, for example.

The amount of outdoor space, which includes a waterfront boardwalk and glass bridge 40 metres above the sea, is a unique selling point and could well be an industry game changer.

Gallery: MSC Seaview christening