Make that five ships that MSC Cruises soon will have in North America.
The fast-growing, Europe-based cruise line on Thursday said it would boost its ship count at major North American cruise hubs such as Miami; Port Canaveral, Florida; and New York from three to five by late 2023 as it continues a rapid expansion in the market.
The five-ship deployment, which should be in place by the 2023 holiday season, will mark the first time the 19-ship brand has had five vessels in North America at once. The deployment will mean nearly a fourth of the line’s entire fleet will be in North America — a new high-water mark for the brand in its North American expansion.
As recently as 2017, MSC Cruises only had a single vessel based in North America and was mostly focused on sailings in Europe for Europeans, as well as Asia, Africa and South America sailings. But the brand has been rapidly building its footprint in North America in an effort to woo more Americans.
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MSC Cruises this year is operating three vessels in North America — two out of Miami and one out of Port Canaveral. But it already had said it would add a fourth ship in early 2023 when it begins its first sailings out of New York.
The fifth ship for North America announced Thursday will arrive later in 2023. It’ll be the 3,502-passenger MSC Divina, which has sailed in North America in the past and is familiar to many North American customers of the line.
With its arrival, MSC Cruises’ North America deployment for late 2023 will look like this:
PortMiami: The 4,540-passenger MSC Seascape will operate seven-night Caribbean sailings out of Miami year-round. The 2,550-passenger MSC Magnifica will sail short cruises out of the port to the Bahamas and Key West, Florida, year-round. The 3,502-passenger MSC Divina will operate a range of three- to 11-night sailings, with longer sailings heading to Central and South America at least through the 2023-2024 winter season.
Port Canaveral: The 4,540-passenger MSC Seashore (which will be taking the place of the slightly smaller, 4,132-passenger MSC Seaside) will sail a mix of short cruises to the Bahamas and seven-night Western Caribbean sailings year-round.
New York City: The 4,500-passenger MSC Meraviglia will sail to Bermuda, Florida and the Bahamas in the fall and winter of 2023 after completing its inaugural summer season in the Northeast with a series of voyages to both Florida and the Bahamas and to Canada and New England. The ship will be based in New York year-round.
Thursday’s new deployment announcement marks a significant milestone for MSC Cruises, which for many years has been a relatively small player in North American cruising. The expansion to five ships in the region by the end of 2023, up from three now, will give it a new critical mass to take on established North American megaship giants such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line in the North American market.
Related: The ultimate guide to MSC Cruises
“Bringing more ships to the U.S. allows us to offer a wide variety of itineraries, adding new destinations and providing more opportunities for travelers to discover our unique international flavor,” MSC Cruises USA president Rubén Rodríguez said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
MSC Cruises USA is the U.S. division of MSC Cruises, which is based in Switzerland.
The announcement comes amid a flurry of expansion at MSC Cruises, which has been growing faster than any other major line in recent years. The line has added seven new vessels since 2017 and has two new ships joining its fleet this year.
While it’s well known to Europeans, MSC Cruises has far less name recognition among Americans than such big, U.S.-based lines as Royal Caribbean and Carnival. However, the line has been moving aggressively with its ship additions in North America to change that.
All of the North America-based ships are marketed heavily to Americans.
Founded in 1989 in Naples, Italy, MSC Cruises in recent years has been building big, resort-like vessels that compete with the biggest ships from the likes of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian. It currently operates five of the 20 biggest cruise ships in the world.
The line is also in the midst of building the largest cruise terminal in North America at PortMiami. It’ll be able to accommodate three of the line’s largest ships at once.
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