Nearly half of MSC’s ex-UK passengers new to cruise

New-to-cruise passengers made up nearly 50% of MSC Virtuosa’s capacity this summer on round-Britain sailings, according MSC Cruises’ UK boss.

In May, MSC Virtuosa became the first ship to operate in UK waters since Covid and the line’s UK and Ireland managing director Antonio Paradiso said it attracted passengers who had never cruised before. More than 500 passengers on the vessel’s reduced-capacity maiden voyage had not cruised before.

MSC Virtuosa has capacity to carry up to 6,300 passengers but for the first half of this summer it was limited to 1,000 passengers in line with government guidance.

Confirming that the new to cruise trend continued throughout the summer, Paradiso said: “Between 48% and 50% were new-to-cruise passengers for the whole season.

“It was a great privilege to have Virtuosa in the UK and that has given us the opportunity to so many people to understand what MSC is all about.”

Speaking a year since MSC resumed operations in the Mediterranean, Paradiso said about a third of Virtuosa’s passengers were families in July and August. “We’ve never had so many families booking a UK cruise,” he said. “We had so many kids.”

Currently, MSC plans to bring MSC Magnifica to the UK next summer.

Asked if the booking trends on MSC Virtuosa meant MSC would add capacity in 2022, Paradiso said this year’s UK season was “under review”.

“If there is an opportunity, we will bring a bigger ship or extend the season,” said Paradiso, adding: “It is still very early days. There are going to be so many conversations that will take place in the coming months.

“We want to make sure that we have a rich offering for our UK guests.”

Musica-class vessel MSC Magnifica had been scheduled to go into dry dock in April 2020 and be lengthened by 23 metres but the pandemic forced those plans to be postponed.

MSC said: “Due to the consequences generated by the coronavirus pandemic, we have been forced to make some changes to the scheduled refurbishment programme for MSC Magnifica and works are currently still on hold, postponed for the foreseeable future.”

More: MSC Cruises’ new flagship makes debut on UK coastal sailings

  MSC Cruises chief to use Mediterranean restart as UK template

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