MSC Cruises looking at options for longer UK season

MSC Cruises looking at options for longer UK season

MSC Cruises is looking at the idea of offering more regular sailings from the UK in 2018.

Gianni Onorato, chief executive of the line, said it would make sense to return to offering regular UK sailings when the line has added more ships to the fleet.

The line returned to the UK this year with a series of short ex-UK sailings from Southampton, with MSC Splendida sailing on six departures. The line's outgoing UK boss Giles Hawke previously described this as a "staggered return".

Onorato did not elaborate on which ship or which class he would look to base in UK waters, but has previously stated he would want it to be one of the line's newer ships.

“The UK is one of the markets we will look to take more seriously, along with the US market,” he said. “We will place more and more focus on these markets. We will have a ship based in the UK for sure after 2018."

His comments came as the line held a coin ceremony for MSC Meraviglia in France’s Saint Nazaire shipyard. The ship launches next year and will be christened at in La Harve, France, on June 1, before spending its inaugural season sailing from Marseille.

The line also announced plans for two Meraviglia-Plus ships which will have 200 more cabins than Meraviglia.

The new ships, which are worth a combined €1.6 billion, will be delivered in October 2019 and September 2020, two years earlier than planned when the line options the ships with Saint Nazaire. Both ships will have 2,444 cabins and will feature a “classic and contemporary” fine art museum.

Onorato said there would be “high security on board” because of the “expensive fine art” being displayed.

MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “Our long-standing cooperation with STX-France and the continued growth of our business allows me today to confirm well-ahead of time the existing options for two additional ships.

“The two Meraviglia-Plus vessels will be even larger and longer as well as richer in features and amenities, thus confirming MSC Cruises as the industry’s boldest innovator when it comes to ship design and experiences we create for our guests.”

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