MSC Cruises is claiming a ‘cruise industry first’ with plans for new in-cabin technology. Amie Keeley reports
MSC Cruises is to install Amazon Alexa-style virtual assistants in every cabin.
The yet-to-be named device will be exclusively available on MSC Bellissima when it launches in March next year and introduced to the rest of the fleet over the next five years.
The technology will be able to answer “every request” from guests about onboard services and facilities in seven languages.
Chief executive Gianni Onorato said the technology was a “cruise industry first” and would be even better than Carnival’s Ocean Medallion, which is yet to launch.
Guest data, such as which restaurants they like best, will be stored in a cloud system and used the next time they travel.
It is being developed by Samsung subsidiary Harman International and MSC Cruises’ business innovation team. Harman has developed audio products for Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
“It’s a first for the cruise industry,” said Onorato. “It will be customised for life on board our ships and for each individual guest.
“For us it’s about creating a deep interaction with customers and making sure they love their cruise experience.”
He said guests can activate the device, which will be round in shape and no bigger than 15cm, whenever they choose.
They will also be required to sign a waiver to agree for their information to be stored. It will be installed on all new ships and retro-fitted on older vessels.
Onorato said the technology complemented the line’s ‘MSC for Me’ digital programme, which encompasses more than 130 smart technology features on board, including an app and sensor-packed wristbands that allow guests to access their cabins.
Meanwhile, MSC Splendida will be installed with translation technology for guests and crew when it is deployed in China in May.
MSC asks agents to ‘support the line’ and help it double UK sales
The UK boss of MSC Cruises said he sees a “huge opportunity” for growth over the next 10 years and implored agents to get behind the line.
MSC’s newest ship MSC Bellissima will be christened in Southampton in March 2019 and will sail its inaugural voyage from Southampton to Genoa that month.
The UK accounts for between 5%‑6% of MSC’s business, a proportion the line hopes to double over the next decade.
UK and Ireland managing director Antonio Paradiso said: “I see a huge opportunity in the UK, so I implore UK agents to support us by selling Bellissima’s inaugural voyage,” Paradiso said. “It’s their responsibility to help us sell it so we can increase capacity [in the UK].”
Asked how MSC could compete against British‑based P&O Cruises, which has two ships launching, in 2020 and 2022, Paradiso said: “Consumer trends change every year, and they want to go to different destinations.
“I believe in diversifiying our product, by offering both ex-UK and fly-cruise.”
In 2019, MSC ships Preziosa and Meraviglia will also offer ex-UK sailings.
“Agents have given us a strong message that they see a big opportunity to grow their business with us with the number of new ships coming.
“We’ve grown 50% over the last two years and I want to thank the trade for helping us achieve that.”