BEEN THERE. DONE THAT.: MSC offers travellers something different
Travellers looking to check off “bucket list” destinations on their world map need look no further than MSC Cruises to do so, especially with their newer Gulf Region and Red Sea itineraries. As the world’s third-largest cruise brand, Geneva-based MSC has a fleet of 19 vessels, projected to grow to 23 by 2025 with options for another six ship orders in place through 2030. Cruise itineraries are available around the world – in Europe, South America, Southern Africa, the Caribbean, North America, as well as the Far East and Gulf regions.
For “been there, done that” travellers looking for something a little different, MSC’s seasonal cruises in the Middle East offer options to set sail from Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha. Other Gulf and Far East destinations include calls in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. On a Red Sea cruise, guests can visit Yanbu, a desert port known for its white sugar beaches and turquoise waters. From Aqaba, guests can discover the UNESCO city of Petra.
Speaking with Travel Industry Today during the recent christening of MSC’s new flagship, the 6,762-passenger MSC World Europa, in Doha, Qatar, Ian Patterson, MSC’s country manager for Canada, said the unique itineraries resonate with the North American market and especially with Canadians.
“We (Canadians) are curious travellers,” he said. “We like to go and see things. We recognize Canadians cruisers are experienced travellers who welcome innovation and new destinations. We encourage them to experience our expanding programs in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar with MSC World Europa and MSC Opera, along with our new program onboard MSC Splendida in the Red Sea, which are quickly booking up.”
He added, “Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE are ports rich in tradition and culture, which allows our cruises to offer a wide variety of experiences, including visiting Sir Bani Yas, a private island off the UAE, Doha (Qatar), Muscat (Oman) and Dammam (Saudi Arabia). Our “Fly & Cruise” packages with Emirates and Qatar Airways on MSC World Europa this winter are proving to be highly very popular.”
MSC Splendida offers an itinerary that gives guests an opportunity to visit four UNESCO sites in a week. Departing from Sokhna (Cairo/Egypt), guests can discover the Luxor Temple (Safaga/Egypt), the walled city of Al-Ula (Jedda/Saudi Arabia), the holy city of Medina (Yanbu/Saudi Arabia) and the historical city of Petra (Aqaba/Jordan). Also available, a tour of Cairo to see the Giza Pyramid complex, the Sphinx and more. A “Stay & Cruise” package for these sailings includes two night’s hotel accommodation.
For agents, booking a MSC cruise can be lucrative. Patterson described the company’s growing “Stay & Cruise” program – featuring pre- and/or post-cruise hotel stays – as a “one-stop shop” for agents and their clients. All elements of the booking are commissionable to agents, including the cruise, hotels, transfers and even air.
Coming in the new year is a new MSC agent incentive program for Canadian agents. As well, MSC offers a complimentary Status Match program to travellers who are members of hotel or other cruise line loyalty programs. Those taking advantage will become MSC Voyagers Club members, from Classic to Gold, guaranteeing a 5% discount on future cruise bookings, as well as other perks, and a similar or higher privilege status offered by their current loyalty program.
For more, visit www.msccruises.ca.
First published at Travel Industry Today