MSC confirms that it is on track to double its passenger growth to 5.5 million between now and 2027 during which time MSC will build 13 new ships, including the MSC Grandiosa, which will launch officially on 9 November at a special event in the home of long-term supply partner Gebr. Heinemann, Hamburg.
The new Grandiosa vessel boasts 1,200sq m of retail space – and 12 standalone boutiques – making it the ‘largest retail space ever’ onboard any cruise ship, says MSC.
Also high on MSC’s agenda over the next decade is making its ships more sustainable, along with offering environmentally-conscious shopping and delivering ‘eco-education’.
In March 2019, MSC became the first cruise retailer to completely get rid of all plastic shopping bags from its fleet. It will now grow this strategy to include changes in sourcing, guest education and retail concepts by next month.
On behalf of MSC Cruises, Head of Retail, Adrian Pittaway has pledged support – along with over 300 industry representatives – for the Travel Retail Sustainability Forum (TRSF) and the Travel Retail Plastic Pledge, believing them both to align with MSC’s own missions and goals.
The operator has invested in a number of procedures to counter its impacts on the environment, including using a hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system which uses 98% less sulphur oxide, by operating in a closed loop.
OCEAN CAY MARINE RESERVE: WALKING THE TALK
In addition, MSC has constructed the Ocean Cay Marine Reserve, complete with four retail areas. In 64 square miles of protected waters, the creation of the island has seen the removal of 7,500 tonnes of industrial scrap metal and waste from the ocean.
Nearly 80,000 trees, plants and shrubs have been planted on the island which boasts ‘state-of-the-art’ sustainable infrastructure components including solar power, and advanced closed-loop wastewater management.
Details of the new sustainable and environmentally-friendly initiatives being conducted by MSC were outlined during a special tour of the MSC Seaview vessel which stopped in the port of Cannes during the TFWA World Exhibition on 2 October.
In the tenth year of MSC Cruises’ partnership with wholesale partner, Gebr Heinemann, the cruise operator invited members of the Hamburg-based travel retailer onboard the MSC Seaview vessel – the first visit for member of the board, Claus Heinemann – during the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes earlier this month. TRBusiness understands MSC intends to celebrate the decade-long partnership with Heinemann in Hamburg next month.
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GLOBAL GROWTH STRATEGY
MSC Cruises’ Head of Retail, Pittaway also invited brandowners and members of the media to the presentation, which revealed information on the company’s global growth strategy and construction pipeline.
While MSC’s share of the global cruise market is under 10% (7.2%) it insists it is the leading cruise line in Europe and the Mediterranean, in South America, Southern Africa and in the Gulf.
Cruise passengers from the US dominate the traffic for the cruise industry as a whole, far outweighing the share of those from mainland China. However, it is the Chinese market which all cruise operators are now trying to address.
Italian passengers make up the majority of MSC’s traffic at 16%, but the operator is keen to highlight that it is the ‘most multi-national cruise line in the world’ with 170+ nationalities boarding their ships each year.
The operator registered 2.4m passengers across all its vessels in 2018 and expects this to lift to around 2.7m by year-end.
EDUCATING INDUSTRY ON CRUISE RETAIL
Pittaway used the presentation and tour of the Seaview vessel in Cannes as another good opportunity to better educate the industry on the complexities and business potential of cruise ship retailing.
He reiterated what he has mentioned on various occasions at numerous conferences that cruise retail is ‘experience retail’ and that stakeholders should be made aware of the clear differences between cruise ships and airports in terms of retail.
Interestingly, he pointed out that the ship makes just 5% of its total retail revenue on day one of voyages. On day two this increases to 15%, 20% on day three and half of its revenue is generated on day four.
Pittaway also pointed out that MSC’s strategy is to move away from the ‘classic cruise retail’ model of the past, in favour of more luxury and ‘holistic’ retail options for more affluent consumers.
PROMOTING FROM WITHIN
MSC is proud of the fact that it promotes from within and will continue to nurture talent within its organisation, but also diversifying the skills of its brand ambassadors through its Retail Masters of the Sea programme.
The operator already boasts 54 graduates from the programme across 20 nationalities, onboard 16 ships.
Speaking of the future of MSC, Pittaway was keen to offer a preview of the retail areas onboard its MSC World Class ships, which will offer a ‘next generation of cruise retail experience’. The first of these ships are due to be launched in 2022.
Prior to that of course the MSC Grandiosa offers a retail template for many ships to come…TRBusiness will be reporting live from the launch of the Grandiosa vessel next month in Hamburg.