MSC Cruises makes bold moves to take on Carnival, Royal Caribbean

Source: TheStreet

Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line have bet big on bigger, better, and newer ships to drive their business. Both cruise lines have been pushing boundaries on their ships adding features like aerial ropes courses, skydiving, bumper cars, roller coasters, and ever-bigger waterslides and parks.

In many cases, both cruise lines have pursued a “the ship is the destination” strategy because their largest ships cannot stop in many ports. That strategy has led Royal Caribbean to invest heavily in its Perfect Day at Coco Cay as well as its upcoming Nassau and Cozumel beach clubs.

Carnival Cruise Line (CCL) has followed that strategy with its upcoming port destination Celebration Key in Grand Bahama.

In addition, both cruise lines have bet heavily on short 3-4-day cruises to get new customers hooked on the product. Royal Caribbean has been sailing those short itineraries with the Oasis-class Allure of the Seas out of Port Canaveral. 

That’s a first for the cruise line which will pave the way for an even more historic move. Royal Caribbean’s next ship, the Oasis-class Utopia of the Seas will take over those short sailings from Allure of the Seas when the new ship begins sailing in July. 

Traditionally, Royal Caribbean has used its newest ships to offer 7-day sailings as they generally sell at a premium price, Icon of the Seas, for example, has been selling at a huge premium compared even to Wonder of the Seas, the ship that preceded it.

Now, MSC Cruise, which has been expanding its presence in the United States plans two moves to compete with Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

MSC Cruises has a new flagship 

MSC has been slowly stepping up its presence in the United States. The cruise line sails out of New York, Miami, and Port Canaveral. The cruise line will bring its new flagship, MSC World America to Miami in Summer 2025.

“MSC Cruises will have two ships sailing from its next-generation terminal at PortMiami — set to be the world’s largest—for the summer 2025 season. Miami’s newest mega-ship, the highly anticipated flagship MSC World America will be embarking on her inaugural season in April 2025,” the cruise line shared.

The new ship is designed to compete with Royal Caribbean and Carnival’s top-tier ships.

“As the second in MSC Cruises’ trailblazing World Class, the ship will be MSC Cruises’ largest U.S.-based vessel and redefine the cruise experience for her guests. The LNG-powered MSC World America will offer 7-night sailings departing on Saturdays to both eastern and western Caribbean ports, including San Juan, Puerto Rico; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; Isla de Roatan, Honduras; and Ocean Cay,” the company added.

Ocean Cay is MSC’s private island, a huge beach with food and bar options as well as a lighthouse that’s sometimes used for nighttime laser shows.

MSC adds 3-4 days sailings

Royal Caribbean to an even bigger extent than Carnival has bet big on shorter sailings. Offering 3-4 day itineraries can be enticing to passengers who might be wary of taking a cruise.

In theory, offering a short sailing on a top-tier, brand-new ship like Utopia of the Seas, or even the older, but still impressive Allure of the Seas will get customers hooked on cruises. MSC plans to make a similar move by shifting two of its higher-end ships, MSC Seaside and MSC Seashore to shorter itineraries at least some of the time.

“MSC Seascape will also call the new PortMiami terminal home, offering a mix of 7-night itineraries in the eastern and western Caribbean along with new 3- and 4-night sailings to The Bahamas and Ocean Cay to meet the growing demand for mini-cruises,” the cruise line shared.

The company has never used its EVO Class ships to offer short cruises from Miami. Seascape’s sailings will include an overnight stay at Ocean Cay, “giving guests more time to enjoy the cruise line’s private island with activities including a sunset champagne cruise, beachside stargazing, and a lighthouse LED show.”

In addition, MSC Seashore will sail similar itineraries from Port Canaveral. 

“From Port Canaveral, MSC Seashore will sail a range of itinerary options, including short 3- and 4-night escapes to The Bahamas. Some of the ship’s 7-night itineraries start out with two days at Ocean Cay followed by stops in Cozumel and Costa Maya,” the cruise line added. 

THE AUTHOR: Daniel Kline

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