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CRUISES

MSC Cruises: 12 ships, 72 countries and 209 ports

By Michael Oz

The recently-published Cruise Industry News Annual Report declared MSC Cruises the number one cruise line in Europe, including in the Mediterranean.

Also the Report stated that MSC Cruises conquered the leading rank in the industry thanks to a deployed capacity across the continent of about 1.1 million passengers.

We talk about # 1 position in Europe, the sea, ships and cruise industry with Pamela Patterson, Business Development Manager, Illinois & Wisconsin.

________________________________________ MSC Cruises

“Vacation Magazine” (“VM”): Pamela, what’s your travel experience and career in cruise industry in general and in MSC Cruises in particular?

Pamela Patterson: “With 13 years of cruise line industry background while living in Miami working in various roles from Analyst to Sales Manager to Events Director for 3 major cruise lines under one brand, I was so excited to learn that one of my mentors and a previous boss had moved to MSC Cruises and was seeking a Business Development Manager in Illinois to cover the Midwest, where I had moved a few months earlier.

Working in the industry and knowing that there are so many great products that a travel partner could sell, it is exciting to know that MSC Cruises is truly one of those products that I am proud to be out promoting to the travel partners and helping them understand where we fit in the mix of all of those products”.

 “VM”: What differentiates MSC Cruises from other cruise lines and what cruise line does MSC Cruises compare to?

Pamela Patterson: “We would place ourselves in the Premium arena closely with Celebrity Cruises. We have a quiet, refined atmosphere with impeccable decor. MSC Divina, one of the newer ships, is similar in size as the Celebrity Solstice class of ships being almost 140,000 tons and holding 3500 guests at double occupancy. In 2014, MSC Cruises sailed to 209 ports of call, 72 countries, held over 11 million guests and is the market leader in the Mediterranean, South American and South Africa.

We are the fastest growing cruise line and the largest privately owned cruise line. We are family owned. So decisions are not based on profits alone, they’re made also with the guests in mind, the family pride and their family name at stake. Currently we have the fleet of 12 ships and one of them, MSC Divina, is our N. American product dedicated to the N. American audience which means - the ship is very strict on Non-Smoking, there are English speaking announcements, the staff speaks English, we do serve the typical American coffee – free, there is the free water with meals and many of the entertainment and programs have been adjusted to appeal to the North American cruisers”.

“VM”: Tell me about the expansion of MSC Cruises?

Pamela Patterson:”We are expanding our Lirica class of ships (4 ships) by adding Balcony Staterooms and more public spaces and we announced last year that we will build 4 NEW ships by 2019 with 3 more on order by 2022. The first new ship coming out from the Seaside Class in 2017 will be named MSC Seaside. The ship will sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean. Following the first ship’s delivery from the shipyard, MSC Seaside will make her way to Miami for MSC Cruises’ first ever christening ceremony in the U.S.

The ship will feature the most interactive aqua park at sea. Of note, the aqua park will include “Slide boarding” – a unique water slide and interactive video game all in one. MSC Cruises will benefit from a newly renovated and expanded dedicated berth and terminal at Port Miami. The first ship from the Vista Class will be Meraviglia and will sail in the Mediterranean come May 2017.”

MSC Cruises“VM”: What is the age demographic for MSC Cruises? 

Pamela Patterson:”Everyone - very old to children of all ages. Young couples, retirees of all ages, families with small children & teenagers, executives and their families & friends. And remember that kids 11 and under sail free as a 3rd and 4th in a stateroom and kids 17 -12 have a reduced rate on most sailings.”

“VM”: Let’s talk about weddings at sea?

Pamela Patterson:” MSC Divina is now offering stylish weddings onboard or in one of the beachside destinations of Jamaica, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Bahamas, Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Barbados or Miami. And we specialize in all types of weddings from Ceremonial, Jewish, Christian, Indian and non-denominational”.

“VM”: Entertainment at sea. What is there to do onboard?

Pamela Patterson:”There is something for everyone. Award winning, dazzling entertainment which consists of outstanding cirque-like acrobatic shows, musical shows, even opera. All which earn standing ovations. Of course there is the casino: Blackjack, Roulette, Fun 21, Texas Holdem, and more. We have the Cantina Di Bacco - the perfect place to share a slice of pizza or have a glass of vino - you can even make your own blend of wine.

And don’t forget about the gelato which you can find in several locations throughout the ship. Of course we have 6 production shows on a 7 night cruise, a fabulous spa offering many treatments and the gym where you can take classes like Yoga or enjoy Aqua Cycling in the pool.

We offer programs sponsored by Chicco’s for babies with drop off baby care service, free use of Chicco bottle warmers, strollers and baby backpacks. For the teens (and some adults) there is the 4D motion ride experience, Bowling, F1 Simulator, Virtual World arcade, the longest single rider water slide at sea, teens only disco, mini soccer & basketball and night teen events. We also have our Movies @ Sea”.

MSC Cruises“VM”: Besides 7-14 nights cruises do you have any short Caribbean deals for those that just like short 3-4 night cruises or for those that may have never cruised before?

Pamela Patterson:”Great question and yes, we do have some shorter cruise alternatives for those that can’t get away for the 7-nights and this is great for those “NEW TO CRUISE” that may not be quite sure that they like cruising. The shorter cruises are also great for weddings, family reunions, or girl get-away trips. MSC Divina just added a 4-night cruise from Miami.

It sets sail January 21st which is a Thursday through Monday, January 25th, 2016 and we also have 2 other shorter cruises on Divina - July 2nd 3 –night sailing and July 5th 4-night sailing”.

“VM”: Pam, tell us about MSC Cruises phone apps?

Pamela Patterson:”Download the MSC Cruises app to find out more - on Google Play Store for Android and on the App store for Apple. The app is outstanding, extremely interactive and just another way anyone can become familiar with MSC Cruises. Some of the many features include:

• Worldwide itineraries and info about destinations;

• Real time global positioning of all MSC Cruises ships;

• Virtual tours of the ships, live webcam feeds, photos and videos;

• Favorites section where you can save cruises of interest”.

“VM”: Pamela, tell us about Loyalty Match ? MSC Cruises

Pamela Patterson:”And remember that we have a Loyalty Match program where MSC will match your highest loyalty membership. This is not just with cruise lines, but with hotels or other suppliers. All you have to do is fill out a form, send in a copy of your loyalty membership and voila, we will match you!”

Useful tips

Where to buy

Call in Chicago (847) 291-6500, “Best World Travel”. Natalie Veprinsky and Mariana Koffman will organize cruises to Caribbean, Europe, South America, South Africa, and UAE. Starting from $379.

When to go

We have two seasons: from April to October our ships sailing in Mediterranean sea, then we cross the Atlantic Ocean and go to the Caribbean sea where we are sailing from October to April. MSC Divina will be in the Caribbean year-round and we will have 1 – 2 ships year-round in Europe. 2016 Summer - 10 ships in Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Northern Europe during the Summer, 1 ship in East Asia and 1 in Caribbean.

2016 Winter - 2 ships Eastern/Western Mediterranean. 5 ships in South America, 1 ship South Africa, 1 ship in United Arab Emirates, 1 ship in East Asia and 2 ships sail Caribbean sea.

 

MSC CruisesAbout the author

Michael Oz - journalist and traveler. The purpose: to visit 100 countries and to understand how the world is created. So far, I have been to 72 countries. Studied in MSU of M. V. Lomonosov in Moscow, the Havana University in Cuba, and Northwestern University in Chicago. Member of the Union of Journalists of Russia and Moscow.

Michael is the author and the host of a weekly Radio Travel Show "Vacation Magazine" which goes LIVE every Saturday 12am – 1pm on Chicago1430 AM. To read articles and to watch videos go to www.vacationmagazine.net. E-mail [email protected]

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