While every country and region is unique in its own way, the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region, including Qatar, is home to impeccable hospitality, vibrant cultures, rich histories, and diverse landscapes that make them coveted tourism destinations, according to MSC Cruises chief executive Gianni Onorato.
“The global travel and tourism industry is finally seeing its long-awaited post-pandemic recovery coming through, and the GCC is an important part of that,” he told Gulf Times.
Onorato said that travellers are looking forward to discovering new destinations and re-exploring new ones within the region, including Qatar.
As such, he noted that MSC is witnessing a significant number of bookings from Italy, the UK and Germany to the GCC and wider Middle East.
The MSC World Europa, MSC Poesia and MSC Opera are currently docked at the Doha Port to provide a unique and curated hospitality experience for fans throughout the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The three vessels have a total passenger capacity of more than 12,000 combined: 6,782 for the Europa, 3,605 for the Poesia, and 2150 for the Opera.
“At MSC Cruises, we pride ourselves on being the leading cruise tourism brand in the region, and look forward to expanding our partnerships with local stakeholders to ensure that the world can continue to explore the Mena region and immerse itself in all that it has to offer,” Onorato said.
About the trends in the cruise industry such as the use of technology on-board, new destinations, Instagram travel, Gen Z impact, weather, and eco-friendly cruise travel, he said: “I think that some things haven’t changed.”
“For example, passengers continue to expect premium, impeccable hospitality,” he continued. “Having said that, our post-pandemic reality means that things like contactless technology have become a key feature of any travel experience, allowing passengers to move throughout ships with reduced contact through doors or when buying items.”
“Combined with apps, they streamline the booking process for onboard services and activities, providing a more convenient option for passengers,” Onorato added.
He said that MSC Cruises offers guests an enriching, immersive and safe cruise experience inspired by European heritage, where they can enjoy international dining, world-class entertainment, award-winning family programmes and the very latest, user-friendly technology on board.
He stressed that MSC Cruises is also committed to environmental stewardship, highlighting the importance of being eco-friendly in travel and tourism as the world battles with climate change.
Onorato said that MSC Cruises operates one of the most modern fleets in the world, with the aim of minimising its environmental impact.
The MSC World Europa, which recently had its naming ceremony in Doha, is the world’s largest LNG (liquefied natural gas)-powered ship – with up to 25% less carbon emissions and significantly reduced local pollutants compared to standard marine fuels.
“The Future of Cruising is our new class of trailblazing ships that set new standards of luxury, innovation and sustainability,” he said. “The MSC World Europa is the first in her class, and has already broken capacity and size records, setting new standards of what luxurious cruising means, and is our most sustainable and futuristic cruise ship to date.”
This state-of-the-art vessel, Onorato said, is powered by cleaner fuel, and with green technology integrated throughout the ship – “a statement of our commitment to protecting the sea and our planet as a whole”.
“We have clear goals that we are working towards – our aim is to achieve a 40% reduction in carbon emissions intensity by 2030 against 2008 baseline, and net zero emissions by 2050,” he added.
“These will be achieved by our ongoing research and investment in eco-friendly fuel, waste management and decarbonisation technologies,” Onorato said.
The MSC Cruises chief executive lauded and congratulated Qatar and its people for taking on the challenge to host one of the World’s biggest events – the FIFA World Cup 2022.
“It is no easy feat, and we have no doubt in our mind that they will put on a great show,” Onorato said. “To the people making their way to Qatar, be prepared to be welcomed with open arms and unforgettable experiences.”
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