Caissa Touristic Group, China’s leading outbound tourism service provider, and Geneva, Switzerland-based MSC Cruises have entered into a strategic partnership.
As part of the agreement, from May 2016, MSC Lirica will homeport in Shanghai to serve the Chinese home market.
The strategic cooperation agreement between the two companies will be the longest-running and financially most significant between a cruise line and a tour operator in the history of cruising in China.
In a statement, Caissa president Chen Xiaobing emphasised the popularity of MSC Cruises’ European and South American routes with travellers from around the world and that it had recently been named number one cruise line in Europe.
Xiaobing added: “MSC Cruises’ distinctive European flavour resonates well with our brand spirit, as it also originates from Europe.
“This partnership standouts 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 on-board staff to ensure that guests receive MSC Cruises’ best-in-class experience and service as well as the degree of the adaptation of the ship’s hardware and software (like facilities renovation, service design and operation, on-board commodities and more) 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,” concluded Xiaobing.
MSC Lirica is scheduled to reach her new homeport of Shanghai on May 1st 2016, after a 60-day grand voyage from Rio de Janeiro via Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa and Dubai.
While maintaining its Mediterranean atmosphere and service, the 65,000GRT, 2,600-passenger MSC Lirica will enjoy an industry-high percentage of native Mandarin speaking guest-facing crew and provide guests with all services in Mandarin.
It will also offer popular as well as high-end Chinese cuisine as well as more traditional and popular entertainments.
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises chief executive commented: “MSC Cruises has been present in China since 2010, successfully bringing Chinese guests to cruise on its ultra-modern fleet to its many global destinations and, especially, to Europe and the Mediterranean, where our distinctive product made us the
number one cruise line across the entire continent.”
More in-depth details about how MSC Lirica’s product and services are uniquely tailored to serve the needs of Chinese consumers – including several industry firsts - will be announced at a press conference to be convened in Beijing in the coming weeks.