Cruising as a segment has witnessed a significant growth from the India market in the last couple of years. Continuing the trend, MSC Cruises has witnessed a 40 per cent growth from India market. MSC has in the recent years sailed a couple of times to the Indian shores, which will further increase with the growing demand.
On the sidelines of MSC Bellissima’s christening ceremony, Angelo Capurro, Executive Commercial Director, MSC Cruises said, “The growth from emerging markets and especially India market is very important for us. We have seen a 40 per cent growth year to date compared to last year. This year is really good for us and with products like MSC Bellissima, we will further see growth. We will deploy more ships to the Far East that will pass through India waters. Also, considering the huge growth we are coming with luxury ships which will be small with very different itinerary. We are looking aggressively at the India market to further enhance guest experience. We do a lot in terms of f&b for the Indian travellers. When we have groups we design completely different f&b for them.”
In terms of trends, Indians are now looking for novel itineraries. MSC Cruises is popular for its Mediterranean sailings, now Indians are also booking on their North European sailings which are premium category products.
Kunal Sampat, General Manager-India, MSC Cruises said, “In 2018 as compared to 2017, we have seen a double digit growth from India market. We are very excited to see the growth in our North Europe sailings. Mediterranean is very popular as we are the only cruise liner having year round sailings in this region. North Europe is a premium product and witnessing significant growth in this region has been encouraging. India has always been a value seeking market and not a price sensitive market. More than 80 per cent of our business are Balcony and above category and Yacht Clubs. This shows that there is a demand for luxury from India market. This is a trend which will further grow.”
Also, the group has witnessed a significant rise in the bookings from the Tier II & III cities. MICE has been one of their core business apart from the family groups and celebrations segment from India.
Sampat said that West and Northern region has always witnessed an upper hand in terms of growth, but Gujarat, Punjab has now become major markets. He further added, “However East and South India markets are still slow and needs to pickup. Tier II cities has always been the strength in India. We are closely working with the B2B market and we get a lot of travellers from the smaller cities. The Tier II & III cities are the game changer.”
Speaking about the segments, he said, “We see a good growth in the MICE segment. Along with MICE, ad hoc family groups are growing. We regularly get such enquiries and conversions happening in this segment, like booking for a 25 cabins together. MICE business for MSC is around 30 to 35 per cent and this year we expect it to grow. We would prefer to cater to the weddings segment, but the challenge is that people want to do weddings on cruise but they like to do in destinations which are in flying time of 4-5 hours maximum. Our sailings are mainly in Europe and even visa has its own challenges. So, Far East as a destination attracts more weddings on cruise as compared to Europe.”