MSC Cruises is all set to bring MSC Lirica to the Indian waters this December. The cruiseliner has announced a scheduled sailing from Dubai to Mumbai on December 22 and Mumbai to Dubai on December 31.
Speaking about the sailing Kunal Sampat, General Manager- India, MSC Cruises said, “In February 2015, first time MSC ship touched Indian waters, it was a part of a Grand Voyage. That time the ship was MSC Orchestra. We are very happy to announce that this year we have MSC Lirica, sailing from Dubai to Mumbai and back. The response for these sailings has been good, but when it comes to Indian water no cruise liners have a scheduled sailing. Anytime a cruise liner comes up with an itinerary touching Indian port it does creates a buzz. India is an emerging market for cruising; usually these sailings are more preferred by first time cruisers. We have two itinerary starting from Dubai on December 22 and touching Mumbai and we have a sailing from Mumbai on December 31 going to Dubai, so for us it’s more exciting as it’s a Christmas and New Year sailing. Travellers are quite excited and we have been receiving a lot of queries, knowing India seasonality we expect bookings happening from July after the summer season closure.”
Recently, MSC Cruises added MSC Seaview to its fleet. The new vessel offers 2066 cabins which can accommodate 5331 passengers. Close to 70 per cent of the cabin offers balcony.
Sampat said, “MSC Seaview is a very different prototype, it is the sister ship of MSC Seaside. The design of the after part of the ship is inspired by the Condo apartments in Miami. There is lot of open spaces in this vessel. This cruise is more suited for tropical weather conditions and this is sailing in West Meditaranian region. Once winter sets in this will shift to South America. We hope to see positive bookings out of India market for this cruise as well.”
Last year, MSC has witnessed a hike in individual bookings. Cruising as a segment is now picking up steadily in India market. MSC majorly focuses on travel trade segment for growth.
Speaking about the growth Sampat added, “This season was more encouraging compared to last year. We saw hike in FIT bookings. People are getting more educated that sooner they book better deal they get. We have got bookings for 2019 also. Trade partners and tour operators are now more aggressive on selling cruises. Our strategy is extremely clear that we are not focusing on direct consumer, we focus on B2B.”
In March 2019, one more MSC vessel is set to enter Indian shores.