-- MSC Cruises plans to base a ship in the Northeast when it
returns in fall 2006 for the winter season, broadening its
itineraries and its market reach beyond the berths of Port
going to be three ships here in 2006 and 2007, one of which will be
sailing from the Northeast, and year-round service, starting in
fall 2006, said Rick Sasso, MSCs North America CEO.
The line, which
caters primarily to European clientele during its summer
Mediterranean cruises, has been steadily building a base in the
Sasso said its
two Fort Lauderdale-based ships, the Lirica and the Opera, have
posted strong bookings with the exception of one or two
Were way ahead of
last year, Sasso said. Last year was the first year, so we were
getting our feet on the ground. Weve had a year to sign up
preferred accounts and work with travel agents. So were probably
more than double ahead of last year.
Lauderdale-based team also is preparing for the arrival next year
of the Musica, which is slated to sail in the Caribbean in the
The Musica marks
another chapter in the MSC Cruises saga. The line has been growing
aggressively, but its newest vessels are still in the mid-size
range. The Musica will bring MSC Cruises in line with competitors
passengers, the Musica will carry nearly 1,000 more people than the
Lirica or the Opera. About 65% of the cabins will have balconies.
On MSCs current ships, only the suites have balconies.
The Musica will
also have more dining options, such as a sushi bar with a Zen
its name, the Musica will have plenty of venues for music. MSC
promises that its three-deck theater will double as a concert
venue. There will be a music hall dedicated to orchestral, cabaret
and dance performances. A panoramic disco will occupy the Musicas
And, MSC said,
there will be locations throughout the ship for piano performances,
small jam sessions, classical duets, small orchestras and
Sasso said MSC
Cruises was to launch a new reservations system on Sept. 21 that
would give agents the ability to connect to MSCs inventory and get
real-time pricing and booking capabilities.
MSC also will
provide a Web portal for agents who want to manage their business
The line still
pays commission on the noncommissionable portion of the cruise
fare, although Sasso said MSC would
probably not continue that forever.
Whether we keep
going with the NCFs -- its just one of those things, he
Rebecca Tobin, managing editor of the print edition of Travel
Weekly, send e-mail to [email protected].