(10:15 a.m. EDT) -- MSC Cruises newest ship, MSC Meraviglia, which launches in Europe in June 2017, will move to Miami in 2019, putting three MSC ships in PortMiami for the winter season of 2019/2020. But North Americans can look forward to even more North American homeports after that, with MSC revealing that Meraviglia will homeport year-round in North America, but not necessarily in Miami.
"Our plan is not to have only three ships in North America," Roberto Fusaro, president of MSC North America said today during a news conference at Seatrade Global in Fort Lauderdale. "Our plan is to grow in North America."
That growth will begin in winter 2019, when the 5,700-passenger MSC Meraviglia redeploys from Europe to Miami, giving the line a three-ship presence in Miami. MSC Seaside and MSC Divina will also be based in Miami during the 2019/2020 winter season. (MSC Cruises has not yet revealed deployment information for its second Seaside-class ship, MSC Seaview, which launches in June 2018.)
Once the season has ended, MSC Divina will move to the Mediterranean.
As for future growth, Fusaro said the line is looking at lots of options. "It's not difficult to guess what those options are," he said, adding that New York, for instance, is an important market for the line. "MSC will be in New York sooner rather than later," he added, though neither he nor the other MSC executives at the news conference confirmed an actual deployment.
MSC For Me
Also at the news conference, MSC Cruises' CEO Gianni Onorato talked about the line's new MSC For Me program, which combines a slew of high-tech capabilities to create a digital experience cruisers can use from pre-cruise to post-cruise to enhance their experience. The program, which will launch on MSC Meraviglia in June and will also be on MSC Seaside when it launches in December, will be rolled out to all MSC through a complex retrofitting plan that will require ships to be fitted with thousands of facial recognition and Bluetooth sensors. The retrofitting will begin in 2019 and occur in two phases, with some of the more basic features added while the ships are sailing, but the full upgrade of technology will follow the fleet dry-dock schedule.
-- By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor