Could MSC Cruises rival P&O Cruises in catering to British consumers?
Founded in 1837, P&O Cruises has become a household name with holiday-makers around the country – offering ex-UK and fly cruises to a range of destinations across Europe and beyond. Although the line has been bought by the American company, Carnival Corporation, P&O Cruises has strived to continue delivering a product that is quintessentially British. Everything from the entertainment on board to the service provided on board – everything has been taken into consideration with the British consumer in mind.
In 2015, the line reached new heights with Britannia – the largest vessel ever built to cater specifically for a British market. Capable of carrying up to 4,100 passengers, this exciting new vessel brought luxurious lounges, unique décor and a range of contemporary features along with many new additions.
P&O Cruises even sought the influence of a number of British chefs – known as the ‘Food Heroes’ - when designing the bars and restaurants on board Britannia. These included renowned chefs: James Martin, Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar; master patissier, Eric Lanlard; and wine expert, Olly Smith.
Each venue offers passengers menus and a range of products that have been hand-picked by these masters of food and drink. Furthermore, passengers are even able to recreate these dishes on board by attending one of the many classes at the cookery kitchen. It is these features, plus many more, that British consumers feel they can relate to and will subsequently return to time and time again.
Until now, there has been little competition with regards to catering specifically towards the everyday British holidaymaker, but MSC Cruises may be ready to offer passengers a real alternative.
MSC Cruises is the largest independent cruise line in the industry, currently made up of a fleet of 12 ships and with grand ambitions to build a further 11 vessels over the next decade. Formed in Naples, Italy, in 1960, the line offers cruises with a Mediterranean ambience. And, since 2015, the line has not operated a single ship on itineraries out of the UK. It certainly doesn’t sound like a suitable rival to P&O Cruises, but MSC Cruises’ UK Managing Director, Antonio Paradiso, has unveiled bold plans of how the line plans to cater specifically towards the British consumer.
Paradiso has announced that the 2,518-passenger MSC Magnifica will be based in Southampton from April to October in 2018 – offering a total of 22 cruises to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Not only this, but great efforts are being made to ensure every fine detail on board will speak directly to British consumers. As well as plans for a British cruise director and a British comedian on board, the sports bars on the ships will also broadcast major British sporting fixtures.
Everything from the meals offered on board, to features such as kettles in each cabin has been considered. Guests on board can enjoy locally-sourced ingredients through British traditions which will include curry night, Sunday roasts and full English breakfasts. There will also be a range of British beers and ciders, and proper tea available on board. Many cruisers often say the finer details make all the difference, and passengers may be interested to know that condiments such as HP Sauce and Marmite will also be available on board the ship. Even the brand of tea is being discussed, with Paradiso confirming a shortlist between PG Tips and Yorkshire.
Speaking to Cruise Critic, Paradiso outlined details of the line’s plans to attract British consumers. "The ship will have British touches, but we'll still retain our European heritage, our European proposition and European glamour. We'll have British twists and home comforts. The idea is to offer British passengers something new and something different.”
However, Paradiso was quick to rule out any direct competition with P&O Cruises, stating: “We're not P&O Cruises, we're not going down that route.”
It is clear to see that MSC Cruises will likely appeal to a British consumer that may be new to cruising, but who may be seeking an alternative to a land-based resort. Unlike P&O Cruises vessels, Magnifica will retain her European feel on board. “The ship will have British touches, but we'll still retain our European heritage, our European proposition and European glamour. We'll have British twists and home comforts. The idea is to offer British passengers something new and something different.”
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