An enhanced selection of longer Mediterranean sailings, new Northern Europe itineraries and the promised return of Southampton departures are among the highlights of the MSC Cruises 2016/17 brochure, which will launches today.
While the emphasis remains firmly on value fly-cruises and cruise-only to the Med, MSC Cruises is ramping up the choice on offer for UK guests by featuring itineraries aboard all of its 12 ships for summer 2016 – offering a total of 270 sailings on 22 itineraries.
These will be made up of nine ‘core’ Med itineraries of seven nights; seven ‘longer’ Med itineraries of between nine and 12 nights; new Baltic and Norwegian fjords options; plus the chance to sail on one of MSC Cruises’ largest Fantasia-class ships (MSC Splendida) from the UK for the first time.
MSC Cruises executive director UK and Ireland Giles Hawke said: “We have made no secret as a business that we are intent on continuing our phenomenal growth. This 2016/17 brochure will be the last before the arrival of two spectacular new-builds in 2017, so it is vital we maximise the impact we make – and that means showcasing our inventory to UK guests.
“MSC Cruises is already the number-one cruise operator in the Med with eight ships in the region for 2016/17, and fly-cruise continues to be our bread and butter. We know how much Brits love to get their holidays started and there’s no better way to do this than fly straight to the sun.
“We have also responded to feedback by making cruise-only an attractive option for those who wish to make their own arrangements or for agents who want to create their own packages.”
Guests booking before 31 August will be able to take advantage of price reductions of up to £300 per person. For simplicity, cruise-only prices in Europe are set £150 lower than fly-cruise packages where available and £400 lower in the Caribbean and Emirates. On ‘Fantastica’ Experiences, upgrades from outside to balcony cabins are available for just £50pp.
The programme features a greater focus on cruises of eight nights or more. Introduced for summer 2015, longer sailings will operate in the shoulder seasons from Venice and Genoa on four ships [MSC Fantasia, MSC Lirica, MSC Opera and MSC Splendida].
Also new is the return of a limited ex-UK programme. MSC Splendida will operate six sailings from Southampton, including a round-Britain itinerary and continental coast cruise.
For 2016/17, MSC Cruises has opted for a more contemporary look for its brochure, with the majority of itineraries presented over two pages. Colour-coded grids detailing prices for each cabin and experience type have been introduced, with each giving the cost depending on seasonality.
The brochure also features four teaser pages with information about facilities planned for MSC Cruises’ new-builds. The company has four ships on order – the all-season STX Vista project vessels [4,500 passengers double occupancy] will launch in spring 2017 and 2019, while Fincantieri’s Seaside project ships [4,140 passengers double occupancy], are set to join the fleet in November 2017 and 2018.
Both classes of ship with have larger MSC Yacht Club areas, including duplex suites and suites with private whirlpool bath. Both will also feature ‘cluster cabins’, where three adjacent cabins can be linked together for families.