It’s no secret that Asia is the fastest growing cruise market, and where many of the top cruise lines are creating specialized brands, MSC is doing things a little different by retaining its international brand, which they feel is important to them. This does make perfect senses to us, because it’s always good to keep your own identity and to not conform.
MSC has created a partnership with Caissa Touristic Group where they will be sending MSC Lirica to homeport in Shanghai starting in May 2016. However, before that she will undergo a refit to cater for the Chinese cruise market.
We do not know what the MSC Lirica refit will change on the ship, although we do know that there will be far higher Mandarin-speaking guest-facing staff members than any other cruise ship. We are not certain if this means getting rid of some crew, or if they will transfer those staff that can speak Mandarin from other ships in the MSC fleet?
However, MSC does have a way to go seeing as though Royal Caribbean has already got a head start because come 2016 the cruise company will have 5 ships homeported in China.
More details on this deal can be found on the MSC press page.