Former Costa Cruises president Gianni Onorato is moving to Italian rival MSC Cruises as chief executive.

He takes up the new role on September 2, with current chief executive Pierfrancesco Vago stepping up to become executive chairman.

Vago will continue to lead the privately-owned cruise company, while scaling up the scope of his duties, MSC said.

“From his new position, he will also oversee all the other companies of the MSC group that have strategic relevance to the tourism sector,” the company said.

Onorato, who stood down from Costa in June after more than nine years as president, has almost 30 years experience in the cruise industry.

He said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed to this exciting role and I am also particularly excited to move to Geneva, where the MSC Cruises headquarters is based.”

“I will do everything I can to add value to the company and help MSC Cruises maximise its industry-leading position. I look forward to starting work with the management team in this significant moment of the company’s growth.”

MSC Cruises runs a fleet of 12 ships and confirmed in July that former Carnival UK sales and customer delivery director Giles Hawke was joining as UK managing director on November 13.