MSC Cruises is partnering with TimeVallée to open a luxury watches multi-brand concept onboard its upcoming flagship, MSC Seascape, which is launching this month.
It’s the first time the concept will appear on any cruise ship, and will serve to further elevate the high-end shopping experience for passengers onboard.
By joining forces, the two Geneva-based companies are bringing the ‘Swiss touch to the high seas’, presenting guests the chance to shop a ‘wide inventory’ of revered Maisons, including: Cartier, Baume & Mercier, Hublot, IWC, Mont Blanc, Panerai and Tag Heuer.
The look and feel of the space will replicate that of other TimeVallée shops on land and offer the same signature service, complete with ‘extensive brand storytelling’.
Paolo Quacquarini, Head of Luxury Watches & Jewellery, MSC gave TRBusiness a deeper insight into what to expect.
“It will offer an inspirational space mixing heritage and contemporary luxury that guides and invites all watch lovers and beyond to browse, learn, share and experience the watchmaking world,” he said.
“Our instore staff will be key in guiding guests along this journey, thanks to their in-depth knowledge and their passion for the products. In addition to this, we will contact guests with a pre-cruise email to invite them for a private viewing.”
The Naming Ceremony for MSC Seascape will take place in New York, at a dedicated event on 7 December 2022.
The new ship will offer two different seven-night itineraries, stopping at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and Nassau in The Bahamas, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, or calling at Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, Cozumel in Mexico, George Town in the Cayman Islands and Ocho Rios in Jamaica.
The idea for the partnership between MSC Cruises and TimeVallée started three years ago, with careful planning to bring it to fruition.
“MSC Cruises is a family company and as such, the company has always been very careful about the partners that we choose to work with,” said Quacquarini.
“We don’t choose anyone at random, so it means that we want to work with other companies that we can really trust, who will work hand-in-hand with us to offer our guests the best service and products available on the market today.
“Not only is TimeVallée a pioneering concept in luxury watch retail, but we are both based out of Geneva, Switzerland, which allows us to collaborate more readily and form a closer bond.
“We started conversations with them in 2019, after getting in contact with their parent company, searching for a luxury multi-brand concept, similar to what one might be able to find downtown.”
Teaming up with TimeVallée is an important step forward in the ever-evolving high-end retail offering onboard MSC Cruises.
“TimeVallée has a legitimacy on the market that is frankly tough to beat, along with an extensive catalogue of luxury Maisons and a unique experience in-store that we simply couldn’t pass up working with,” said Quacquarini.
“They are very strong in the watch industry, thanks to their close partnership with FHH (Foundation High Horology).
“Since 2016, we have steadily been developing our luxury shopping offering on board, with more and more high-end brands available across watches and jewellery – we now offer an unparalleled 23 luxury brands across the fleet.
“The dedicated retail spaces are evolving and growing with each new ship and working with TimeVallée is the natural next step for our brand, as we continue to grow and diversify this offering.”
More TimeVallée boutiques are set to launch on MSC cruise ships in the future.
“We are confident that TimeVallée is a concept that our guests will really appreciate, so with this in mind we are already planning to feature TimeVallée on our next two ships, MSC Euribia launching in June 2023 and MSC World America launching in 2025,” revealed said Quacquarini.
“We are hoping to keep this partnership going for many years to come, with larger and more diversified offerings in the works.”
Full steam ahead for luxury shopping at sea
Being in the unique position to cater to a captive audience presents cruise companies with a fantastic opportunity to introduce new retail experiences.
As Brandon Briggs, MSC Cruises SVP Onboard Revenues described: “The beauty of luxury shopping at sea is that cruise guests have plenty of time on board.
“Since cruises are most often at least seven days long, guests have the ability to return throughout the cruise, revisiting their desired purchases and savouring the luxury experience.
“As we evolve our ships, we have understood the importance of evolving our retail spaces along with them; creating larger retail spaces that are more tailored to customer needs, which is why TimeVallée’s multi-brand but in-depth approach was a perfect fit for our guest experience.”
As expected, due to the news of the partnership, the watches category is a key focus for the company.
“Overall, watches are the clear bestsellers in the luxury retail on board,” said Quacquarini.
“Because almost half of the guests on board are celebrating important life milestones such as weddings, birthdays or family reunions, they often want a special souvenir to remind them of this important holiday, which is why so many of them opt for big-ticket items like luxury watches.
“They understand that these pieces can last a lifetime and will always transport them back to their time on board.
“In terms of spend per passenger, we have seen huge growth since we started developing our offerings on board and including more dedicated spaces.
“If I take our monobrand boutiques as an example – that is to say, our boutiques that offer a dedicated experience of a single brand – we have seen sales that were previously unheard of on board.”
Looking more broadly at how MSC is seeking to develop its luxury shopping offering at sea, the focus if firmly on creating a distinctive and tailor-made experience for guests through the introduction of leading brands and immersive concepts.
“Since 2016, we have been working on developing our luxury shopping experiences on board, adding more and more high-end brands across watches and jewellery,” said Quacquarini.
“We are growing and adapting with each new ship and working on special experiences in collaboration with some of the world’s leading luxury brands.
“With 23 luxury brands currently available across our fleet, we know that our wide portfolio is the only one like it at sea.
“We also plan on tailoring our onboard experiences even more to offer truly immersive experiences for guests, as well as building up our high-end jewellery portfolio to match our extensive luxury watch collection.”