MSC Cruises Is on the Scent

December 8, 2009
MSC Splendida Cruise Ship (1:44 p.m. EST) -- Supermarkets bake bread in store to make customers hungry. Estate agents advise house sellers to put the coffee on before prospective buyers arrive. Travel agents in the U.K. have even resorted to scenting their shops with coconut oil and tanning lotion to make visitors dream of holidays.

Now MSC Cruises is going one better with fragrant cruises. A special perfume, MED by MSC, has been custom designed for the new MSC Splendida and will be infused at low levels (we're promised) into the air-conditioning and detergents on the ship, pumping the "fresh, fruity and warm scents of fig, almond and vetiver" into the subconscious of its passengers.

A press release rhapsodizes: "Think of the Mediterranean and one immediately thinks of sensory delights; the perfumed lavender fields of Provence, the fruit of fig trees warmed by the summer sun, fresh herbs and citrus flavours and the enchanting scent of floral jasmine caught on an ocean breeze. Many of these typical Mediterranean scents are represented in this ambient fragrance."

In fact, the thinking behind the new scent is more cunning than simply enhancing passenger well-being. MED by MSC has been developed by perfume manufacturer Firmenich and Brand Sense, a company specializing in "sensory marketing." Brand Sense's Web site argues that: "Our research demonstrates that brand loyalty increases by 30% when more than one sense is engaged, but it increases by a whopping 70% if three senses are integrated into the brand message."

In other words, any future hints of fig, almond and vetiver might conjure up your memories of MSC Splendida and a desire to book another cruise. Or as head of corporate marketing Daniela Picco pointed out in a statement: "Fragranced hotels are becoming a big thing and research proves that holiday memories are composed of myriad sensory experiences, with scent playing a vital role. This inspired me to believe that we could create a unique scent as part of the MSC Cruises experience."

Let's hope the fragrance meets with passenger approval as it's going to be everywhere. Toiletries, all laundry, table linens, bedding and dressing gowns as well as the public areas will be imbued with MED by MSC. Passengers who really take to it will be able to buy home fragrance or scented candles in the onboard shop.

Although this is the first cruise line perfume we've heard of, other lines do go to great lengths to provide memories of a cruise in unorthodox ways. Carnival sells its Comfort Beds and a linen range through SeaDream Yacht Club sells Norwegian porcelain coffee cups (the SeaDream logo inside is only revealed once you've started drinking the coffee) through its online boutique.

Cunard Line once gave out teapots in the shape of a ship, which have become collectors' items -- but surely takes the biscuit in marine memorabilia with its range of dog overcoats, leads and black-and-gold dog bowls.

What's your weirdest cruise line souvenir? Let us know!

--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor