The FINANCIAL — MSC Cruises S.A., one of the world’s largest privately-owned global cruise line and one of the market leaders in the Mediterranean and in South America, and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, announced on June 24 a new partnership agreement that will benefit MSC Cruises’ guests travelling to Abu Dhabi and the UAE.
The partnership with Etihad Airways reflects MSC Cruises’ long-standing commitment to its guests and is testament to the Company’s wish to always make its all-around offering a best-in-class experience, both at sea and in the air – with “Fly&Cruise” packages from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK – with Etihad Airways or partner airlines in its network, according to Etihad Airways.
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted to partner with Etihad Airways. Both companies are uniquely young, ambitious and dynamic market leaders. With our “Fly&Cruise” packages, MSC Cruises guests will benefit from Etihad Airways’ and our Company’s impeccable service from the minute they leave their homes for a memorable cruise experience on MSC Musica. Through our partnership and also together with Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority we will work to develop Abu Dhabi as an ideal winter cruise destination to further strengthen our offer in the region.”
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive of Etihad Airways, declared: “Abu Dhabi is being developed into a leading international cruise destination, with record passenger numbers and ship calls reported during the recent 2014/2015 season. Future projections are even stronger, as the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal opens at the end of this year, and world-class cultural attractions such as Abu Dhabi’s Louvre and Guggenheim museums enhance the local tourism offering.
“Our partnership with MSC Cruises, as well as Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, for ‘Fly&Cruise’ will expand source markets for cruises in the UAE and regionally, bringing in more travellers from destinations across Europe. It will also ensure a comfortable travel experience for guests at all stages of their holiday, including their time in the air and on the sea.”
In its focus on developing the cruise market in the beautiful region of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman, MSC Cruises logically partnered with Etihad Airways. Under the terms of the agreement, MSC Cruises’ guests will be able to fly to Abu Dhabi from Europe with Etihad Airways to cruise in the region in the amazing Arabian winter. Guests will fly with the national airline of the UAE to their cruise during winter 2015-2016 on MSC Musica.
Contributing nearly 20 per cent in terms of market share to Abu Dhabi’s 2014-2015 cruise season, MSC Cruises has brought over 100,000 passengers from 115 nationalities to the Emirate between 2011 and 2015. Overall, Abu Dhabi’s 2014-2015 cruise season, that ran from October 2014 until May 2015, welcomed a record 200,407 passengers and 94 ship calls.
Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO Abu Dhabi Ports, commented: “By providing state-of-the -art facilities to cruise lines and industry partners, we are boosting Abu Dhabi’s growth potential to be a regular port of call on the itineraries of leading tour operators from across the world. Our innovation in service and infrastructure has been delivering a lasting impression to visitors to Abu Dhabi, supporting our mission to increase our share of the UAE’s non-hydrocarbon based GDP and to contribute further to the tourism industry.”
From 13 December 2015 to 27 March 2016, MSC Musica will sail 16 seven-night cruises in the region from Abu Dhabi, calling Khor al Fakkan, Muscat, Khasab and Dubai.
MSC Cruises already partners with multiple global brands that are bywords for excellence in their fields. Partnerships with the Lego Group and Chicco are rooted in the Company’s commitment to creating unforgettable holidays for children and families. A partnership with restaurant brand Eataly adds high-end Italian cuisine based on exceptional ingredients to the fleet’s rich dining offering, while Samsung and Expo 2015 – of which MSC Cruises is the Official Cruise Carrier – echo the Company’s focus on technological innovation.