Cruise boss says agents should encourage clients to book early as prices rise 25%

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Cruise boss says agents should encourage clients to book early as prices rise 25%

MSC Cruises’ early bookings for 2024 are up 60%, said UK & Ireland Managing Director Antonio Paradiso, adding that there is unlikely to be capacity left to shift at the last-minute.

And he said people are paying up to 25% more year-on-year for like-for-like cruises.

Speaking as the line’s newest ship MSC Euribia arrived in Southampton for the first time on Friday, Antonio said 2023 has been ‘tremendous’  for the cruise line, but 2024 sales are looking ‘even better’.

Antonio with Steve Masters, Southampton Harbour Master, and Captain Christopher Pugh, the ship’s master, during the traditional crest exchange ceremony on board MSC Euribia as the port of Southampton welcomed the first call of MSC Euribia

“Next year is not the year you want to wait until the last two months [to book] because early bookings have increased significantly,” he said.

Of those who’ve already booked for next year, 40% are new-to-cruise and around 80% have booked via a travel agent.

“We have invested a lot in our travel agents over the years and we can definitely see the results,” added Antonio. “My biggest satisfaction is having seen our agents growing along with us.”

While sales have been consistently strong throughout the year, Antonio said he isn’t expecting to see the traditional New Year bookings spike.

“I think we are going to see less of a spike between January and February, I am pretty confident we are going to see more consistency throughout the year,” he added. “Looking at the booking trends over the last four to five months, the thing that stands out is consistency.”

Having two ships based in Southampton – first MSC Virtuosa and now MSC Euribia, which will operate a series of seven-night winter cruises to Northern Europe  – has helped to boost UK bookings, added Antonio.

MSC’s summer 2025 programme is already on sale, in addition to 2024 cruises, and it expects to launch its winter 2025/26 programme between Christmas and New Year.

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