In a statement MSC said the agreement between the two companies would be the “longest-running and financially most significant between a cruise line and a tour operator in the history of cruising in China”.
The line has been present in China since 2010, but Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ chief executive Officer said the new partnership would take MSC’s presence in the country “to the next level”.
“The soon-to-be completely renovated MSC Lirica, as part of MSC Cruises’ ground-breaking Renaissance programme, will feature many distinctive traits – including some industry firsts in service - especially designed for the cruising enjoyment of Chinese consumers. This will make it a much sought-after choice for cruises in the region,” Onorato added.
MSC Lirica is scheduled to reach its new homeport of Shanghai on May 1 2016, after a 60-day grand voyage from Rio de Janeiro via Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa and Dubai.
The line said the 2,600-passenger ship would maintain its “Mediterranean atmosphere and service, but would also feature an industry-high percentage of native Mandarin speaking guest-facing crew, providing guests with all services in Mandarin.
It will also offer Chinese cuisine as well as more traditional and popular entertainments.