The MSC Cruises ship is the penultimate of seven vessels that spent the season operating in Brazil and Argentina.
According to the latest (provisional) statistics from CLIA Brasil, this season posted 496,800, passengers, 15% more than 2017/18 when 496,800 passengers cruised on three lines.
Eight ships in 2019/20
And next year a similar increase is anticipated as an eighth vessel – the 2,400-berth MSC Symphony - will be added to the roster, bringing MSC up to five vessels, while Costa Cruises will continue with two and Pullmantur Cruises will remain with one (chartered by tour operator CVC).
Despite this short term recovery, the Brazilian market is still a long way behind its peak of 805,000 passengers back in 2011/12.
Bigger ships, longer season
CLIA Brasil president Marco Ferraz says that the increase in numbers for the 2018-19 season was due to bigger ships being deployed (5,300-passenger MSC Seaview replaced MSC Preziosa) and also a longer season: it started in mid-November and will finish when the MSC Orchestra departs Salvador on April 11.
This vessel has been deployed on the River Plate itinerary so is currently sailing from Buenos Aires and due to arrive in Rio de Janeiro on April 8 before calling Salvador and then crossing the Atlantic via Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.
‘We have had close to 100% occupancy for the whole season,’ Ferraz told Seatrade. ‘Owing to the economic crisis we had and then three years ago we had the impeachment of President Dilma our passenger numbers plummeted but since vice president Michel Temer took over as president, and then Jair Messias Bolsonaro since January, things have improved dramatically.’
2% gdp growth expected
After a long recession Brazil returned to growth last year, with 1%, and this year we are expecting 2% gdp growth, he added.
The 2019/20 season will again start in late November and end in mid-April and Costa Cruises’ Costa Favolosa and Costa Fascinosa, will stay into April this time as well as two MSC ships.
MSC Symphony will homeport out of Itajai, in the south of Brazil – the first time in five years that it has welcomed cruise ships - offering cruises both to the north(to Rio and Santos) and also to the south (Buenos Aires and Uruguay).
‘We are very excited about bringing Itajai back into the fold,’ enthused Ferraz. ‘And we have also seen a number of improvements in infrastructure which is also helping with the increased numbers.’