Nave_MSC_Fantasia(1)_tcm27-6312Globally, the cruise industry has been faring well – even under the pressure of current recessionary times. According to the 2015-2016 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, this growth trek is set to continue into the future – a significant overall increase is expected over the next seven years, with MSC Cruises SA leading the way with the most significant anticipated percentage growth.

“It’s true, MSC Cruises has been performing exceptionally well. As the world’s biggest privately-owned cruise line, and the 4th largest by capacity, the company has seen a whopping 800% growth over the last 10 years. In 2003, it initially accommodated a mere 127 000 passengers, while in 2014, it hosted 1,67-million passengers in total. Present in 45 countries around the world, MSC has been voted as the market leader in the Mediterranean, South America and South Africa,” says Allan Foggitt, sales and marketing director at MSC Cruises.

Perpetually evolving to suit customers’ needs – MSC aims to maintain a fresh and appealing offering at all times: “This year, MSC Cruises has added Cuba and China as new international destinations, while locally, we will be cruising to Ilha de Mozambique for the first time this season. Over and above the new destinations, there are a number of new and attractive on-board offerings as well – from new kids clubs that cater to 5 different age groups, through to the MyChoice Dining option, the new Doremi Spray Park, and enlarged on-board MSC Aurea Spa and dining areas.”

However, it is the all-inclusive nature of cruising that remains one of MSC Cruises’ biggest drawcards: “Our cruises can be tailored to suit differing tastes and they therefore hold mass appeal. What’s more is that all your on-board meals, entertainment and accommodation are included in your fare, plus kids under 18 cruise for free, making a cruise holiday not only affordable, but also one that is incredibly easy to budget for. This is especially useful for South Africans travelling with our eternally volatile rand – passengers can get a taste of international travel, but at a fraction of the cost,” comments Allan.

He says that the new immigration laws pertaining to children have posed some problems with local passengers however: “While the new immigration laws pertaining to children are aimed at halting the human trafficking, it has had major implications for the tourism sector, making it more complex for travelling families to meet visa requirements. The vast majority of MSC’s passengers are families, and so it has most certainly had an impact.”

However, Allan notes that even though MSC is reporting record sales, there remains huge potential growth in the local South African market: “The local market potential is estimated at 1,746,00, and MSc Cruises’ current penetration is around the 7,4% mark. However, we aim to grow this by positioning the southern African region as an international cruise destination. The spin-offs of which will be hugely beneficial to our local economy – advancing the Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape regions as leading tourism destinations, and promoting small business growth and workforce development.”

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