02 MAY 2019: At 9 a.m. on May 1, MSC Cruises launched a new chapter in Canada with the official opening of an office in Mississauga. It’s just one of 19 global offices for the Swiss-based cruise line, but the significance should not be lost on the Canadian public and travel trade, says the company’s president.

“We want to expand in Canada and the only way to do that is to be close to the market,” Roberto Fusaro told Travel Industry Today at a pre-opening soiree for the trade on Wednesday night – an event considered of such import that Fusaro flew in from Fort Lauderdale for the occasion.

Under the direction of newly appointed MSC Canada country manager (and former director of business development), Ian Patterson, the MSC space (just across the 401 from Pearson airport) is the first full cruise line office in Canada with 15 employees – and one that is fully bilingual, Patterson emphasized.

He also noted the significance of the ability for consumers and the trade in this country to now be able to make bookings in Canadian dollars, and to be able to do so on dedicated Canadian websites (which will be available in French by the end of the year).

Other functions for MSC Cruises Canada include a bilingual call centre, groups and sales support for guests and travel agents, and an expanded array of bilingual marketing materials such as brochures and flyers.

Fusaro says the new office is not only a testament to MSC Cruises’ commitment to expanding in North America, but also to the company’s rapid growth plan. The family-owned business (with Italian roots) – and largest privately owned cruise line in the world – is in the midst of a $20.4 billion investment plan, which includes adding 17 new vessels to the fleet by 2027 for a total of 29. Four of the ships have already arrived since 2017: MSC Meraviglia (June 2017), MSC Seaside (December 2017), MSC Seaview (June 2018), and MSC Bellissima (March 2019). And another, MSC Grandiosa, the first of the Meraviglia- Plus generation, will set sail by the end of year.

Later this year, the cruise line will also unveil Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a private island destination in the Bahamas.

MSC is the fastest growing cruise line in the world with Fusaro claiming that 25 percent of all cabins being built in the industry are for MSC. Moreover, the cruise line will triple its capacity by 2027, he says, and to do that the cruise line needs to grow in markets like Canada.

And whereas, the cruise line is currently entrenched in Europe, its goal is to be No. 1 in North America, he added.

“It is an incredible feat that we have a direct presence in 29 countries and have grown our distribution network to reach 68 countries globally since our inception,” says Achille Staiano MSC Cruises’ Vice President Global Sales.

Ian Patterson acknowledged that significant growth in Canada in recent years was in part behind the decision to open an office here. He points out that the cruise line just welcomed its 10,000th academy graduate (MSCacademy.com) and 2,000 of the agent specialists are Canadian.

“The trade is the backbone of our business. And we support the trade as much as we can. It’s because of the trade that we can do this,” he told the audience the opening ceremony.

In Canada, MSC is currently offered by Sunwing and Transat, while TravelBrands has a wholesale agreement. MSC vessels sail year-round in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, and seasonal itineraries include Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, South America, southern Africa, China, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and India.

The new trade web site: www.mscbook.com/ca

www.MSCCruises.ca.

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Michael Baginski

Editor, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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