Here’s what an average Indian traveler looks for when planning a holiday: Good food, great company, and a wee bit of fun that could be captured on a smartphone and flaunted on social media. However, our Indian cruise connoisseur is no average traveler. Be it male or female, young or old, the cruise enthusiasts in India are on a quest for something more profound. They are often on the lookout for elating experiences that could shape their lives, good company that turns into lifelong friends, and scrumptious food that’s not just fit for a king, but which also packs a compelling story. These cruise enthusiasts are willing to experiment and look beyond what they see.
On March 3, the world witnessed the birth of a ship that’s all set to satiate the needs of an Indian cruise aficionado. MSC Cruises launched Bellissima, which in Italian means, “Beautiful.’
“MSC Bellissima has been rightfully tagged as #BeautyAtSea. This is the sixteenth ship of the MSC fleet. It is the biggest ship by far built by a European cruise liner. India has always been attracted towards big ships, newer ships, so this is where we feel that Bellissima has an added advantage,” says Kunal Sampat, General Manager (India), MSC Cruises.
In the past, MSC saw a good amount of traction from India on MSC Meraviglia, which was launched in 2017. Bellissima is a Meraviglia plus class ship. There is also Grandiosa, another plus-class ship, which is expected to launch in November. Next year, MSC plans to unveil Virtuosa.
“All these ships, which are big, newer in technology, and the way it caters to multiple segments of the travel industry, provides the right USP. This is where we have an upper hand in catering to the Indian market,” adds Sampat.
As far as the cruise industry is concerned, India has been an emerging market. “It is really nice to see Indian travelers becoming more acceptable to cruise holidays as an option. I think for the next couple of years I don’t see a downward trend where cruise holidays are concerned. It will always be on an upward swing. We have seen good growth in our Mediterranean sailing. North Europe has been picking up very well. With the new ships coming in every year till 2027 and also the ultra-luxury segment, which MSC will focus on from 2022 to 2026, I think the ambitious plans of MSC are very much in alignment with the growth that we foresee from the Indian market,” says Sampat.
Here’s a look inside MSC Bellissima
MSC has been actively engaging with Indian trade partners through roadshows, travel expos, and b2b media.
“Our strategy has always been in line with empowering our trade partners who are obviously the travel agents and the tour operators. India predominantly is a B2B market with respect to cruise holidays. Our aim, therefore, has always been to take this further by educating the travel agents and ensuring that they have all the tools required to convert the business much more easily,” says Sampat, who is optimistic about the increase in cruise enthusiasts from India.
Bellissima an ideal MICE venue
Angelo Capurro, Executive Director, MSC Cruises, echoes the same sentiment. Bellissima is also an ideal MICE venue, says Capurro.
“In 2019, our focus will be on catering to the Meetings and Incentives segment. There are many event companies in India that are looking at experienced cruise lines to host their next special occasion. Bellissima is the best place to do that. Within the ship, we have everything that’s required to make the event successful,” says Capurro.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises, is keen on sending the ship to the Indian shores. “The Indian market has an incredible potential for the cruise industry because there are a lot of families that love the product, and they are already cruising around the world. We started MSC from the Emirates, and we would definitely like to come to India. Obviously, if there was a favorable regulatory political plan to allow the cruise industry to work along the Indian shores, that would facilitate and accelerate a much stronger offer to the market locally. However, in order to achieve that, we need the support of the regulatory system in India,” emphasizes Vago.
Bellissima is something more than a ship. She is a mini city with a discreet maritime touch. The design and architecture proudly showcase industrial modernity and technological progress. While interactive screens and videowall monitors are present in every other cruise ship, Bellissima boasts an AI-powered virtual assistant called Zoe. This cruise assistant is found in every cabin and can speak seven languages. So far, no Indian language has been included in the software.
- MSC Bellissima features 20 bars and 10 restaurants.
- The cruise has 8 duplex suites, 34 suites, 1282 balcony cabins, 136 Ocean View cabins, 650 interior cabins, and 12 interior studios
- MSC Yacht Club features grill & bar, a pool, a restaurant, a sundeck, and a topsail lounge.
- The cruise has a dedicated space for children of different age groups. Baby Club Chicco is for infants below 3 years, the Magic Lego Playroom caters to age groups from 3-6 years, Junior Club is designed for age group 7-11 years, Young Club is for age group 12-14, and Teen Club is dedicated for older teens.
- The cruise houses an abundance of bars, cafes, and lounges. The popular ones are Champagne Bar, Edge Cocktail Bar, Grand Canyon Bar, Infinity Bar, Marketplace Bar, Atmosphere Bar, Horizon Bar, and Masters of the Sea.
Cirque Du Soleil At Sea
MSC Bellissima’s most sought-after entertainment is the Cirque Du Soleil. Two shows are exclusively performed in the Carousel Lounge for Bellissima guests: SYMA (Sail Beyond Imagination) and VARELIA- Love in Full Color.
Here are the cruise’s other attractions: