MSC Cruises CEO Pierfrancesco Vago brings a European perspective to Seatrade Miami.
MIAMI – 15th March 2011 - The announcement that North American cruise liners would move to European waters this summer confirmed that “the Old World is now becoming the New World” of cruising, MrPierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises said to the annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami today.
Mr Vago, who was invited as a first time guest speaker to bring a European perspective to the prestigious event which attracts over 10,000 international delegates and 983 exhibitors, said he was proud to give an overview of the Old World which had become the fastest growing cruise market globally with a dramatic 163 percent increase in passengers alone in just 10 years.
“Europe was declared ‘the hottest story in cruising’ two years ago by the authoritative publication USA Today and there is absolutely no doubt that it has remained so,” said Vago, who was recently appointed to the executive committee of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise association dedicated to the promotion and growth of the industry.
“The cruise industry in Europe has overcome the economic storm with remarkable resilience, skill and success. The market is second only to North America, accounts for 30% of the global share and keeps on growing. In addition its cruise-ship capacity will be up to an astonishing 23% this year.
“Our current level of 5 million European cruisers was achieved in North America in 1997, so in many ways we can say that Europe is becoming the new Caribbean as a destination of choice,” said Vago.
He said he was utterly confident that the European Cruise Industry had a brilliant future, which could well be illustrated by the record-breaking growth experienced by MSC Cruises itself since 2003. Indeed passenger numbers has leapt from 127,000 to 1,220,000 in seven years and a brand new 12th MSC cruise ship would be launched in 2012.
“Europe is undoubtedly the top destination on anyone’s dream vacation list. Cruising the Mediterranean and Baltic seas has become the new iconic way to do the traditional Grand Tour especially for Americans, and increasingly for the Chinese and Indians too,” said Vago.
Europe has also become a year-round destination. In 2009 there were a total of 152 cruise ships sailing in Mediterranean waters carrying 3 million passengers on almost 8000 cruises. This was not surprising considering the high number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Italy (45), Spain (42) and France (35).
“The proposed move by North American liners to Europe is a further confirmation that ours is a healthy and vibrant market. This move will certainly heat up the competition. All competitors are all most welcome. But let me warn you: do not underestimate Europe as the ‘new kid on the block”, was Mr Vago’s provocative closing note.
“Our cruise ships are decidedly European in style with a focus on the highest standards of service, onboard gourmet experiences and dreamy cultural excursions in enchanting cities like Rome, Venice and Barcelona. This is quite different to the ‘Wow and Fun’ factor of the American way.
“We also have the unique capability of embarking from multiple ports and pride ourselves in dealing with more than six languages at the same time. The European market distribution follows a very special door-to-door pattern and our VAT rules can be complicated and disparate.
“But having said that, we welcome the opportunity for all of us to get the most out of our products and the chance to offer a bigger choice at a lower price.” said Vago.
About MSC Cruises :
MSC Cruises is the world's leading cruise company in the Mediterranean, South African and Brazilian markets and operates across the globe. It's modern fleet comprises eleven ships: MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia (the largest ships ever built for a European ship owner), MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica and MSC Melody. MSC Magnifica, the newest ship in the fleet, was launched in March 2010. The fleet cruises year-round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, North America and Canada, South America, the Indian Ocean, South and West Africa, Abu Dhabi and the Emirates. MSC Cruises is the only company in the world to receive the "6 Golden Pearls" award from the Bureau Veritas in recognition of its high level of quality management and environmental responsibility. MSC has also achieved ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 certification for the quality and food safety of all aspects of its catering, both onshore and onboard. MSC Cruises cares about the welfare of children, and as a responsible market leader believes in making a positive impact in the regions where it operates. To this end, the company recently forged a partnership with UNICEF to fund a community project aimed at providing disadvantaged children in Brazil with a quality education.