Fast-growing MSC Cruises sails into the New York market, heats up competition
Get ready for a major new option when it comes to cruises from New York City.
On Tuesday, fast-growing MSC Cruises announced it would begin year-round sailings from the Big Apple in 2023 — a move that will put it head-to-head with Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line in the market.
The world's third-largest cruise brand said it would move a single ship, the 4,500-passenger MSC Meraviglia, from Port Canaveral, Florida, to New York City in April 2023 to operate a range of six- to 11-night voyages to the Caribbean, Bermuda, New England and Canada.
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It'll be the first time the 19-ship brand has sailed from New York City.
The new sailings will open for bookings on Wednesday.
The announcement marks a significant milestone for MSC Cruises, a Europe-based brand that, until now, has only offered sailings in North America out of Miami and Port Canaveral.
"New York City was the natural choice when we picked our next U.S. port because it’s so accessible, whether the guest is coming from somewhere nearby or from around the world," MSC Cruises USA president Rubén Rodríguez said in a statement.
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MSC Cruises USA is the U.S. division of MSC Cruises, which is based in Switzerland.
As part of Tuesday's announcement, MSC Cruises said MSC Meraviglia would operate:
- Seven- and eight-night voyages to the Bahamian port of Nassau and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the line's private island in the Bahamas.
- Six-night trips to Bermuda that feature three days docked at King’s Wharf.
- Ten and 11-night sailings to New England and Canada that bring calls at Boston; Portland, Maine; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; and Saint John, New Brunswick. The 11-night itinerary also includes a stop at Newport, Rhode Island.
MSC Cruises will join Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line in basing ships in the New York area year-round for sailings to the above regions. Other lines that sail regularly out of New York-area ports on a seasonal basis include Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises. Cunard Line also has a major presence in New York City with regular transatlantic sailings from New York to the U.K. out of a port in Brooklyn.
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 Cruise Line. However, the line has been moving aggressively to change that.
Related: The 7 most anticipated new ships of 2022
As part of its expansion, MSC Cruises has been rapidly building its footprint in North America in an effort to woo more Americans. In 2017, MSC Cruises only had a single vessel based in North America. It now has two vessels based in Miami and one more sailing out of Port Canaveral.
All of the North America-based ships are marketed heavily to Americans.
Founded in 1989 in Naples, Italy, and now based in Switzerland, 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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