Genoa - There are aficionados, those who in the marketing language are called repeaters: in the case of the MSC Yacht Club they are passengers who come to book multiple trips within a season. But there are also those who have casually approached this type of cruise, like Annamaria, 58, from Rome, an employee of a bank: "In times of Covid, I was looking for a safe holiday. Here I feel like I am inside a 'bubble within a bubble': the social distancing is ensured, the rows do not exist, even the swimming pool is usable without worries. Of course: it's not a cheap vacation. But nowadays, nothing is free ... In my case, I have always chosen holiday villages: with what I spent to spend two weeks in Sardinia, I enjoy seven days on the Seaside. And I can swear that there is no comparison ".
To understand what is behind a vacation model whose success is surprising, perhaps, the cruise company itself (just try to make a reservation to understand how much cabins and suites are required), it is enough to spend a day inside this "Secret zone" that hides inside the ships of the MSC fleet. The Yacht Club is a real ship within a ship. Concierge available 24 hours a day, private butler, possibility to have lunch and dinner by choosing the time, priority access to theater shows, but also restaurants, elevators and private bars, as well as swimming pools and Jacuzzis.
Giancarlo, 50, is a Sicilian engineer who has long chosen the Yacht Club. “My wife and daughter are very happy - he says - and I am more so because here I can really relax. We have been Yacht Club customers since 2017. The best thing about these holidays? The opportunity to enjoy the whole ship while staying, however, in an exclusive area. Here the treatment is truly five-star, everything is perfect, for adults and for children. The price? Let's say it's the right one. I know this vacation is not for everyone. But the ship is truly a form of democratic tourism: there is not only the Yacht Club, there are also cabins from 600 euros per week ".
Franco, 70 years old from Rome, and his wife are on their third Yacht Club experience. “And it's a shame not to have discovered it sooner! - laughs - I can't buy a yacht, but I can spend a week aboard Seaside: I think the experience is the same. You probably don't eat so well on a yacht. I have worked in catering for a lifetime: I can only give the highest mark to the chef and the guys in the dining room, who are very good. A defect? If I really have to find it: I would have appreciated an Amatriciana pasta on the menu. It's a joke of course, don't let me argue with Thierry (the director of the Yacht Club, ed) ".
From the Yacht Club to Explora Journeys
The success of the Yacht Club formula is probably the basis of Msc's decision to focus with greater conviction on the luxury sector. A rapidly growing segment, always in the hands of American companies, and destined to consolidate in the near future. In 2023 the first ship of the Explora Journeys brand launched by the MSC Group will enter service. Small ships created for an audience accustomed to the highest levels of comfort. The same one who has chosen the Yacht Club areas for years. Cannibalization risk? No, according to industry experts. Because the holiday model will still remain different.
"During my presidency of MSC Cruises we have created the Yacht Club in some ships, that is an exclusive area with more luxurious suites, services such as butler for customers, restaurants of a certain level - explained the executive president of MSC, Pierfrancesco Vago -. It has been a success and more and more guests are asking us to live this experience. We analyzed their requests and realized that even more luxurious ships were needed. However, in order to satisfy the requests of these customers, it is necessary to have a whole dedicated structure, with trained staff, a mentality and a new brand. We lacked an offer that would allow luxury travelers to live experiences that match their desires. So we thought about transferring the same emotions, the same happiness we felt, with our private boats, regenerating ourselves thanks to hidden treasures where large ships do not arrive ".