FRANCE. MSC Cruises’ highly-anticipated third Meraviglia-generation ship entered the water (floated out) for the first time this weekend, with Head of Retail Adrian Pittaway saying the ship contains “our biggest retail footprint ever” across over 1,000sq m of space. The company also announced an increased focus on retail recruitment and training (see below).
MSC Grandiosa took to the water at a shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, where the 6,334-passenger vessel is being built.
Pittaway added: “Our largest ever ship has a brand new layout of beautiful onboard boutiques.” Store operation on Switzerland-based MSC Cruises’ fleet is managed in-house.
As well as introducing an open-plan multi-category shopping gallery, MSC Grandiosa will showcase a large Mediterranean-style promenade that serves as the social and shopping hub of the ship.
Among its speciality restaurants will be a new bar and lounge, L’Atelier Bistrot, offering lounge seating, a stage and a dance floor, impressionist art, and terrace seating with Parisian bistrot tables and chairs.
The promenade will host surprise performances including flash mobs and themed parties, as well as eye-catching projections on an almost 100m-long LED Sky screen. Along with other Meraviglia-class ships, MSC Grandiosa will host two new and exclusive shows from Cirque du Soleil at Sea.
As the first of three Meraviglia-Plus ships, all of which feature larger tonnage and greater guest capacity than the first two Meraviglia vessels (MSC Meraviglia and MSC Bellissima), Grandiosa will be the fifth ship to enter the MSC fleet in just two and a half years.
The ship will start regular sailings from Genoa, Italy on 16 November 2019. Sales for its cruises have already opened.
Strong pipeline of vessels drives extra retail focus
MSC Cruises – the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line – is due to take delivery of another 12 next-generation cruise ships by 2027. This means that between 2017 and 2026 over 100 new boutiques are expected to open.
To help manage the retail growth, the company has initiated a new scheme: the Retail Masters of the Sea 2018 management development programme.
Pittaway said: “Over 20 of our team were promoted from boutique sellers to business leaders by showing the right aptitude, attitude and hard work, getting the right mentoring and seeking continuing feedback to be able to step forward. Our graduates come from so many cultures, backgrounds and experiences, from Brazil, China, Morocco, Bulgaria and South Africa to name but a few.”
MSC Cruises is now looking to create its ‘Class of 2019’.
“With over 25 new boutiques being added this year we need to keep on growing our team,” noted Pittaway.
Under Pittaway’s direction, MSC Cruises is responsible for buying, merchandising, logistics, HR and onboard operation for over 150 shops. Retail covers core categories such as beauty, liquor, food and toys, as well as specialist categories including fashion, accessories, sunglasses and jewellery, and own-brand stores. “We are also growing our luxury channel, focusing on high-end jewellery, watches and accessories,” said Pittaway.
He added: “My goal is to ensure our division is innovative, expert, dynamic and a forward-thinking operator in the travel retail channel to our 140+ nationalities onboard, showing a different way of operating long-lasting brand partnerships to other concessionaire retailers.”