Amid the scrapping of four cruise ships in less than the same number of weeks and expectations that dozens of other cruise ships may soon meet the same fate, MSC Cruises has quashed rumours that it is considering retiring its older tonnage.
“No, absolutely not,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises when asked by Cruise Industry News if the line was considering selling ships. “I don’t know why (the other companies) are doing it. I don’t know why they are creating competitors.”
Onorato appeared to be referring to Holland America’s sale of two of its cruise ships to Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, although he didn’t mention them specifically.
MSC Cruises is instead planning to put two cruise ships into service in the Mediterranean in the coming weeks, with plans to increase its operations to 14 ships by this winter.
The cruise line has already confirmed that MSC Fantasia will be homeporting in Dubai for the coming cruise season, while it is sticking to its plans to homeport two cruise ships in South Africa during the same November, 2020 to March, 2021 period.
MSC Cruises was the world’s fastest growing mass market cruise line prior to the pandemic, and Onorato indicated that it intends to regain that momentum in the coming months. He noted that the cruise line has seen encouraging booking patterns for future seasons.
In addition, he pointed out that MSC Cruises is a privately-owned company, which necessitated a lean operation from the beginning, even before the pandemic forced cruise lines to begin trimming the fat.
“Being a private company, a family-owned company, we have always been a leaner operation,” he said. “We are more flexible than the others. Everyone is in a different situation and you cannot compare MSC with the bigger corporations.”
MSC Cruises also benefits from being a subsidiary of the world’s second-largest shipping enterprise, Mediterranean Shipping Company, which currently has 578 container ships in its fleet, employs more than 30,000 people and brought in revenues of $28-billion in 2014, the last year it publicly disclosed financial results.
While the global shipping industry has also taken a significant hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, with trade out of China cratering and ongoing uncertainty over the US-China trade deal, it hasn’t been impacted to nearly the same extent as the cruise industry, which has been in a total standstill for more than four months.