Switzerland-based cruise line MSC Cruises and China’s outbound tourism service provider CAISSA Touristic Group have entered into a strategic partnership, described by the two as “the longest-running and financially most significant” between a cruise line and a tour operator in the history of cruising in China.
As part of the agreement, from May 2016, MSC Lirica will homeport in Shanghai to serve the Chinese home market.
World Maritime News reported earlier in August of MSC’s plans to debut in China, with the newly-renovated MSC Lirica calling in Shanghai on May 1, 2016.
The 65,000-GRT ship will make the company’s maiden call in China’s biggest megalopolis after a 60-day round-the-world Grand Voyage which departs on March 3, 2016 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
CAISSA Touristic’s President Chen Xiaobing emphasized the popularity of MSC Cruises’ European and South American routes with travellers from around the world and that it had recently been named number one cruise line in Europe.
“This partnership standouts from other traditional agreements between China-based tour agencies and cruise lines by the emphasis that will be placed on the training of the entire on-board staff to ensure that guests receive MSC Cruises’ best-in-class experience and service as well as the degree of the adaptation of the ship’s hardware and software (like facilities renovation, service design and operation, on-board commodities and more) to fit the customs and tastes of the Chinese guests that it is designed to serve,” Chen Xiaobing added.