Gratuities will be rolled into cruise fares from April 2 for UK and Ireland passengers onboard MSC Cruises ships, the line’s UK boss has confirmed.
Speaking onboard new ship MSC Bellissima ahead of the vessel’s naming ceremony in Southampton, Antonio Paradiso told an audience of travel agents he understood gratuities “can be very controversial”.
“They are optional and we do expect passengers to pay them, but they can remove them if they wish.
“We are currently working to include them in cruise fares from April 2. I would say April 1, but I don’t want people to think it’s an April Fools,” he joked.
It came as the line’s executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said he hoped to bring one of the line’s existing “enhanced ships” to homeport in the UK in 2021, fuelling speculation that it could be Bellissima, given the ship’s many UK-centric features, such as an English pub and the London Theatre.
Paradiso added: “We’re working on some brand new itineraries and will make Southampton our home in 2021. It will be an existing vessel but we will enhance it and we will be sailing a full summer season out of Southampton.”
Asked whether the line might yet bring a new ship to homeport in the UK, Vago replied: “It all depends on the performance of the UK team. I think it will be soon, it’s on the cards,” he added.
Paradiso said the UK was now in the line’s top five markets worldwide, but said his ambition was to push it into the top three.
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