Genoa – There are the aficionados, those who in marketing parlance are called repeaters: in the case of the MSC Nautical Club these are passengers who come to book several trips during a season. But there are also those who casually approached this type of cruise, like Annamaria, 58, from Rome, a bank employee: “In the time of Covid, I was looking for a safe vacation. Here I feel like in a ‘bubble in a bubble‘: the spacing is assured, the rows do not exist, even the swimming pool can be used without worries. Of course: this is not a cheap vacation. But nowadays, nothing is free … For my part, I have always chosen holiday villages: with what I spent to spend two weeks in Sardinia, I enjoy seven days by the sea. And I can swear there is no comparison “.
A ship inside the ship
To understand what’s behind a vacation model that may surprise the cruise line itself with success (just try to make a reservation to figure out how many cabins and suites are needed), just spend a day inside this “secret area” which hides inside the ships of the MSC fleet. The Yacht Club is a true ship within a ship. Concierge available 24 hours a day, private butler, possibility of lunch and dinner by choosing the time, priority access to theater shows, but also to restaurants, lifts and private bars, as well as to swimming pools and jacuzzis.
Giancarlo, 50, is a Sicilian engineer who has long chosen the Yacht Club. “My wife and daughter are very happy – he says – and I am even happier because here I can really relax. We have been clients of the Yacht Club since 2017. The best of these vacations? The opportunity to enjoy the entire ship while remaining in an exclusive space. The treatment here is really five stars, everything is perfect, for adults and for children. The price? Let’s say it’s the right one. I know these vacations are not for everyone. But the ship is really a form of democratic tourism: there is not only the Yacht Club, there are also cabins from 600 euros per week “.
Franco, 70 years old from Rome, and his wife are making their third experience at the Yacht Club. “And it’s a shame not to have discovered it sooner!” – Laughs – I can’t buy a yacht, but I can spend a week on Seaside: I think the experience is the same. You probably don’t eat so well on a yacht. I have worked in the restaurant business all my life: I can only give the chef and the guys in the dining room the highest rating, who are very good. Failure ? If I had to really find it: I would have appreciated a Amatriciana pasta On the menu. It’s a joke of course, don’t let me argue with Thierry (the director of the Yacht Club, editor’s note) “.
From the Yacht Club to Voyages Explora
The success of the Yacht Club formula is probably the basis for Msc’s decision to focus more firmly on the luxury sector. A growing segment, still in the hands of American companies, and destined to consolidate in the near future. In 2023 the first vessel of the Explora Journeys brand launched by the MSC Group will come into service. Small ships created for a public accustomed to the highest levels of comfort. The same who has chosen the Yacht Club spaces for years. Risk of cannibalization? No, according to industry experts. Because the vacation model will always be different.
“During my presidency of MSC Cruises, we created the Yacht Club on certain ships, that is to say an exclusive area with more luxurious suites, services such as butler for clients, restaurants of a certain level – explained the Executive Chairman of MSC, Pierfrancesco Vago -. It’s a success and more and more customers are asking us to live this experience. We analyzed their requests and realized that even more luxurious ships were needed. However, in order to satisfy the demands of these customers, it is necessary to have a whole dedicated structure, with trained staff, a mentality and a new brand. We were missing an offer that would allow luxury travelers to have experiences that match their desires. We therefore thought about transferring the same emotions, the same happiness that we felt, with our private boats, to regenerate ourselves thanks to hidden treasures where large ships do not arrive “.