The Lirica will depart China this spring in favor the MSC Splendida, which will sail from Shanghai starting in April, and bigger plans are on the horizon for 2019.
“In China we will grow from a smaller ship, from the MSC Lirica to the Splendida,” Gianni Onorato, CEO, told Cruise Industry News.
The company is one of just two adding capacity in China this year.
“I can’t speak for the others. We have a strategy of gradual growth. For us, it was a normal strategy to move from the Lirica to the Splendida. We feel safe and comfortable with that move.
“The Splendida will be there this summer and then sail in Dubai next winter. Then the plan is that the ship will be based in China permanently year-round starting in May 2019.”
Onorato didn’t seem concerned about current supply and pricing concerns in China.
“The market fixes its problems,” he said. “There is a distribution issue there. I think the market itself will solve the problem. There will be different ways of distributing the product and more B2C, and this will add to the growth of the cruise industry there.
“It’s not about going away from the charter model. We will follow the market. It will not be 100 percent charter; there will be different channels.”
The Splendida will debut into China this April with an upgraded connectivity package for internet-hungry Chinese passengers. The MSC for Me app will also be refreshed for the Chinese market.