Agent takes £50K of bookings from one client for FOUR 2026 MSC Cruises immediately they go on sale

MSC 2026 cruises
By Linsey McNeill
Home » Agent takes £50K of bookings from one client for FOUR 2026 MSC Cruises immediately they go on sale

MSC Cruises said its first day of sales for its 2026 ex-UK cruises went ‘exceptionally well’, with one agent booking one client onto four voyages in Virtuosa’s Royal Suite.

The bookings, worth more than £50,000, were secured within minutes of MSC’s 2026 ex-UK programme going on sale on Thursday morning.

It is the first time MSC has been the first mainstream cruise line to launch in the UK market and Sales Director Steve Williams said he was expecting a record-breaking day.

MSC’s best seller so far for 2026 is a new nine-night cruise to the Med departing on 20 August during the English school summer holiday, while the second most popular is a 14-night cruise to Iceland and the fjords.

“I knew a nine-night holiday would be popular if we could get down to the Med in that time and [VP International Sales] Antonio Paradiso made that happen,” said Steve.

Steve, who championed the early launch with MSC’s management team, said it was what travel agents and its onboard future cruise consultants wanted. “I get out and about and speak to a lot of agents and it was being drilled into me that they would like us to go on sale as early as possible,” he said, adding that families and clients buying the top suites were particularly keen to book well in advance.

He credited agents with getting behind the launch, with the major travel agent consortia taking advance registrations, and many retailers giving it a ‘huge push’ on social media. “That’s because we’d got all our ducks in a row, we were able to communicate the itineraries and prices in advance,” he added.

Launching early and giving agents longer to sell the programme would hopefully lead to less discounting later on, added Steve. “Nobody wants to be in a market where you are filling 50%, 60%, 70% of cabins in the lates market. Then, the only person who wins is the consumer.”

MSC has launched a flash sale for summer 2024 today, knocking up to £250 off prices but addressing agents’ concerns about fare reductions cutting into their commission, Steve insisted rates weren’t being slashed. “Even in the sale, the lead in of £599 for seven nights is the same as our opening price for 2026,” he said.

“Our net per diem [revenue per passenger cruise day] has increased significantly since 2021,” said Steve, adding that prices today are ‘significantly higher’ than in 2023.

He said MSC’s UK sales were already up 30% during the Wave booking season, following on from a 65% growth in 2023 over 2022. “Revenue is also ‘considerably’ higher. Booking value is holding up well.”

Other cruises selling well in the UK market include its new winter sailings around the Canary Islands, which replaces its planned Red Sea programme.

Charters have been arranged with Jet2 from several regional airports to support the Canary Islands programme. “The UK is the top market in the world for these cruises, Brits have absolutely gone for them, particularly from Belfast and Edinburgh,” added Steve.

Its Caribbean cruises, supported by Virgin Atlantic fortnightly charters to Barbados from London, and its Arabian Gulf voyages were also proving popular with UK customers, he added.

Share this article

Latest News