MSC Cruises has confirmed it will reinstate ex-UK sailings to its fleet in 2016-2017.
The cruise operator is set to relocate one of its Fantasia class ships, MSC Splendida, to Southampton for six sailings in 2016-2017. Splendida’s itinerary will include a round-Britain route, as well as a continental coastal crossing.
Giles Hawke, executive director of MSC Cruises’ UK and Ireland arm, confirmed the cruise line’s plans, saying: “The idea of having a Fantasia-class ship lets people see the breadth of our product, as in the past it’s been one of our smallest ships sailing out of Southampton from the Lirica class. We’ve got new capacity coming in 2017 [from the Vista class]and the ships will be even bigger. It is a good way of introducing the fact that MSC is a big-ship cruise company and a serious brand.”
Hawke said that many UK cruise passengers have approached MSC on social media to request that one of its ship’s be returned to Southampton for UK sailings.
MSC are currently offering early-booking discounts of up to £300pp on Splendida sailings booked before the 31st August 2015. On top of this, the cruise line has recently simplified its cruise-only pricing, offering rates at £150 lower than fly-cruise packages in Europe.
Cruise-only packages have become more popular of late, with many passengers preferring to make their own arrangements on how they travel to and from the cruise ship.
Hawke added: “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 will add two “revolutionary” new ships to its fleet in 2017-2018, with the option to commission a third if it’s required. Each ship is reported to have cost the firm around €700 million and both vessels will feature a sea-level promenade with space for shops, restaurants and outdoor space.
Images sourced via MSC Cruises Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: 4seconds, Gary Bembridge