MSC Cruises senior bosses were forced to handle booking enquiries following record sales in the days immediately after the launch of cruise ship MSC Poesia.

Travel Weekly Cruise Month - April 2008Chairman Peter Pate and UK managing director Claudia Baino joined reservation staff to take phone bookings last week while lunch hours had to be cut short to deal with agent enquiries.
About 1,800 people were invited to the christening of MSC Poesia in Dover on April 5.

The number of sales on Monday April 7 was double the number on the same day last year and there was a record number of brochure requests.

Pate said: “Even during the weekend [of the christening] we had a lot of enquiries on the web, way above average, and on Monday the phone was ringing off the hook.

“We expected a big response after all the work we’ve done over the last 12 months, but not the response we got.”

Pate said the cruiseline was planning more high-profile trade events. Agent roadshows are already planned for June. The UK sales team of three will be “at least doubled”.

“Agents know we exist now but, boy, are they going to know about us over the next year or so,” said Pate.