Naples - MSC Crociere began 2019 by announcing strong growth for its business in the port of Naples. The season began with a maiden visit from the new flagship MSC Bellissima (capacity 5,714 passengers), with Leonardo Massa, the company’s manager for Italy, as host.
The offering was double what the company had presented the previous year, since MSC Fantasia with its 4,363 passengers added to those of Bellissima. And the icing on the cake was that MSC Lirica was also put into play. In 2003, Lirica was the first ship built ex-novo in the history of the company, and was christened in Naples and used as an Olympic Village for athletes at the World University Games.
“2019,” Leonardo Massa points out, as the summer season comes to a close, “was a very good year for cruise ships in Naples. We had 82 calls, more than twice as many as in 2018, and 370,000 passengers (+120%). 2020 will see the arrival of the MSC Grandiosa which calls at Naples on Monday [ed. as part of systems test].”Massa had just returned from the coin ceremony at Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard, where the construction of a new 339m cruise ship, the MSC Seashore, has begun, to be delivered in 2021. And a few hours later, he received the green light from the United States government on the final contract for the planning, design and construction of two cruise ship terminals and two berths in the port of Miami. MSC’s new ships will thus be able to dock at the company’s new base: the terminals will be able to simultaneously accommodate two ships of 7,000 passenger capacity each, for a total daily capacity of 28,000.
The Grandiosa will be officially inaugurated in Hamburg on 9 November. The Geneva-based company’s growth program is also benefiting Naples. MSC currently has a strategy of increasing staffing levels at its administrative offices at a rate of one hire per month. With regard to the relationship between the city and the port, with the recent problems affecting taxi drivers, Massa recognizes that “there is room for improvement in logistics”, citing the matters of accessibility to taxis and connections to the airport. Hopes are also set on the reorganization of the Piazza Municipio, which is right in front of the Beverello wharf, which is dedicated to cruise ships.
“The port of Naples,” he added, “is inserted into a city that embraces it and which is of great cultural interest.” Concerning the experience of the World University Games, the manager explained, “The event was an extraordinary showcase. Naples proved that it was able to work well as a team. The use of Lirica as a village for athletes and organizers was a success, so much so that many who were guests have asked us where the ship will be going so that they can repeat the experience. A unique experience: the ship was a five-star hotel right in front of the Castel Nuovo, at the heart of the city. MSC will also be taking significant steps towards the ‘greenification’ of its business in 2023, with the arrival of a vessel that features a dual-fuel engine system.
“Our goal is zero emissions. We will invest five billion euros in five new LNG-powered ships, LNG currently being the least polluting fuel. The investment will cover improved water treatment and energy saving as well as the reduction of emissions. With regard to the judicial difficulties that the Authority is going through, Massa hopes to return to “a situation of stability. Long-term investments require operational continuity.”