MSC Cruises has confirmed all its new ship orders, and will not be selling off any tonnage, despite demand for cruise plummeting in the wake of the global pandemic.

Chief executive Gianni Onorato the line will “continue to invest” because “we are optimistic”.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, he said: “We have confirmed all our orders. We will have the delays that we’ve already announced for MSC Virtuosa – instead of late October, we’ll be out in March next year, and Seashore will be coming out in July next year. So next year we have two new ships [joining the fleet].”

He continued: “Then we have confirmed the first World Class MSC World Europa which is coming out at the end of 2022. And we have announced Meraviglia five; and we have announced the twin ship of Seashore. So we have all our orders confirmed as well as, in 2023, the first ship for our luxury brand,” Onorato confirmed.

Looking to the future, he said: “This situation will come to an end at a certain point. The economy cannot sustain, for so long, such a situation. So, it will come to an end; there will be a vaccine and people will go back to what they like to do.”

Onorato said much of MSC’s recovery depended on other industries, like the airline industry.

“We are a global company; we have ships all over the world. We give the opportunity to UK guests to travel to the Med, to travel to Dubai, to travel to Qatar, to South America, to the Caribbean, Barbados or Miami. Now we’ve opened Port Canaveral so people can enjoy Orlando before joining the ship,” he said.

“So we will continue to invest because we are optimistic. 2021 will not be a record. Our record year has been 2019. We did a great job, also financially, it’s been our record year. 2021 will not be as good as 2019, I can already say that. But it will be better [than 2020]. Everyone has written off 2020,” he said.

Asked if MSC would be selling off any of its older tonnage as rivals Royal Caribbean and Carnival UK have done, Onorato said: “We don’t have a ship before 2000. So all our ships are from the new century. So that’s why we’re not going to dismiss ships because we need those ships.”

Onorato said plans to divulge more about its new ultra-luxury cruise brand had been put on ice temporarily but that he hoped to reveal more details before the end of the year.

“It will be very soon but we’re waiting for the right moment to do it,” he said.

Onorato explained the new brand would be run by a new, separate team, and said: “There will be a lot of synergy and a lot of cross-functional relationships. But we do believe that in order to really have a separate brand, which is different from the contemporary premium market the MSC brand is in, we needed to have different brains and different people, because they need to be focused on other aspects than we usually are,” he said.