Italian line MSC Cruises has recently announced that it has plans to extend its fleet – literally – with a refit of the four vessels in its Lirica class.
MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Lirica and MSC Opera will each be cut and stretched, with around 800 new cabins expected to be added across the fleet. The four ships are also the line’s oldest and the refit plans are a sign that line is ensuring that its existing vessels are up to the highest standard possible, rather than expanding the fleet by adding new ones. It is thought that the line will not launch any new cruise ships in the next three years, though it is expected to place orders for new vessels which will launch after that time.
The line, which is the fourth largest cruise operator in the world, has long had a reputation for catering to the Europeancruise market and it is likely that the refit of the Lirica class vessels is part of MSC Cruises’ strategy to raise its profile within the UK and attract more customers, with plans to add more balconies key to this approach. There is also the possibility that one of the line’s vessels could sail from the UK on a regular basis.
The news comes hot on the heels of the announcement last week that Giles Hawke had been appointed as MSC’s new UK Managing Director. Hawke explained his plans to increase awareness and perception of the line, saying: “I think currently you ask 10 different travel agents to tell you about MSC Cruises and you get 10 different answers. I would like 10 agents and 10 answers that are the same. I’m in the listening, learning and understanding mode for the next few months.”
By Simon Brotherton