MSC Cruises has made two major announcements affecting the UK cruise market in the past week.
Firstly, it was publicised that Giulio Libutti, the former UK and Ireland Managing Director for the cruise line, was leaving the company following five years of service by mutual agreement. In the same statement it was revealed that Giles Hawke had been appointed as Libutti’s successor, to begin in the role in November.
Hawke has a long history in the cruise industry, coming off the back of nearly 11 years as Sales and Customer Service Director at Carnival UK. On his appointment, the CEO of MSC Cruises Pierfrancesco Vago said “We are confident that Mr Hawke will be an excellent addition to MSC Cruises UK & Ireland and look forward to welcoming him on board.”
In the interim period, MSC Cruises’ Corporate Executive Neil Palomba will oversee the development of MSC Cruises in the UK and Ireland, which leads us onto the second announcement made by the company.
It has declared that from next year a second MSC Cruises ship will begin sailing from the UK. Currently only the MSC Opera provides sailings from the UK, but beginning in September 2014 the MSC Magnifica, from the considerably larger Musica Class of ships, will also give passengers the chance to sail with the line. Both ships depart from Southampton.
The MSC Magnifica will offer seven-night itineraries that begin in Southampton and head to Zeebrugge, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Le Havre (for Paris) before returning back to the same UK port. Packages include either free parking at Southampton or free national coach transfers.
The cruise line will also run their first mini cruise from the UK, timed to coincide with the second May Bank Holiday in 2014. It will sail to Guernsey, also from Southampton.
By Ian Lewis