MSC Cruises plans Chinese overhaul for maiden Shanghai season

MSC Lirica will be revamped to cater for the Chinese market (photo by Freephotographer)
MSC Lirica will be revamped to cater for the Chinese market (photo by Freephotographer)

MSC Cruises will revamp one of its ships to cater for Chinese guests, as part of plans for its first ever homeport season in China.

The European company has entered into a strategic partnership with CAISSA Touristic Group, the Chinese outbound tour company, in a deal that will lead to the MSC Lirica cruise ship homeporting in Shanghai from May 2016.

And according to CAISSA Touristic’s president, Chen Xiaobing, the ship will be renovated to offer dedicated Chinese facilities and the vessel’s staff will undergo training in how to handle the needs of Chinese passengers.

“This partnership standouts (sic) from other traditional agreements between China-based tour agencies and cruise lines by the emphasis that will be placed on the training of the entire onboard staff,” said Chen. He added that the MSC Lirica would be revamped “to fit the customs and tastes of the Chinese guests that it is designed to serve.”

“We are convinced that the newly-renovated MSC Lirica will bring exciting new holiday-making choices to Chinese guests and are looking forward to welcoming numerous would-be cruisers aboard, at a time when the cruise market in the country for this particular type of product is thriving,” Chen concluded.

MSC Lirica is scheduled to reach Shanghai on 1 May 2016, following a recently-announced 60-day voyage from Rio de Janeiro, via Genoa and Dubai. MSC said the 2,600-passenger vessel would employ a “high percentage of native Mandarin speaking guest-facing crew” as well as providing all guest services in Mandarin. It will also offer Chinese F&B and entertainment options.

“MSC Cruises has been present in China since 2010, successfully bringing Chinese guests to… its many global destinations, and especially to Europe and the Mediterranean,” said Gianni Onorato, MSC’s CEO. “We are now delighted and excited that through this partnership we are taking our presence in China to the next level.

“The soon-to-be completely renovated MSC Lirica… will feature many distinctive traits – including some industry firsts in service – especially designed for the cruising enjoyment of Chinese consumers,” he added.

Further details of the MSC Lirica’s new Chinese products and services are expected to be announced at a press conference in Beijing in the coming weeks.

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