MSC Bellissima’s UK naming ‘the peak’ of Paradiso’s career

MSC Cruises' UK & Ireland md Antonio Paradiso (right) welcomes president Giovanni Onorato and executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago (centre) to Southampton MSC Cruises' UK & Ireland md Antonio Paradiso (right) welcomes president Giovanni Onorato and executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago (centre) to Southampton PHOTO: Mary Bond

Antonio Paradiso, md of MSC Cruises UK & Ireland celebrated his third anniversary heading up the UK & Ireland source markets for the cruise line on Friday, the day MSC Bellissima debuted in Southampton.

Having worked for MSC for ten years, he described the UK and Ireland market as ‘booming’ for the company pointing to a 200% growth since 2016.

‘I am overwhelmed by the traction we are getting in the UK which is one of the top five performing European markets for the company,’ he remarked.

Bellissima naming fuelling interest

‘In terms of passenger sourcing we are the top cruise line in Ireland and the fastest growing in the UK,’ Paradiso told Seatrade Cruise News.

Naturally the naming of Bellissima in Southampton and the build up is helping that growth, he added.

‘We started TV advertising in January and February and last week we took over the LED screens at all main London stations to promote her naming ceremony,’ he said.

‘As a company we are particularly targeting the UK and US markets to grow local sourcing and the arrival of new ships helps in that promotion.’

Fly cruise and ex-UK sailings

For the UK and Ireland that means passengers sailing both ex-UK cruises as well as fly cruise. ‘Both are equally as important,’ notes Paradiso.

Most popular destinations for MSC UK passengers are the West Med, East Med and Caribbean, he shared. MSC Bellissima will operate this summer in the West Med before wintering in the Middle East.

That is why Paradiso has spent a lot of time and effort in developing relationships with the airlines and expanding the range of airports the company offers connecting flights to/from the ships.

Expanded flight connections

‘Two years ago we only offered fly cruises out of London Heathrow and Gatwick. Now passengers can additionally fly out of Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Newcastle.’

Having worked for MSC Cruises for ten years, Paradiso born in Brighton, UK to an English mother and Italian father calls the naming of MSC Bellissima in Southampton as ‘the peak of my career’.

Big Southampton party

Talking on the eve of the naming by godmother Sophia Loren, he told Seatrade, ‘to say I am excited is an understatement. This is going to be the largest ship naming event held by a cruise line in the UK. We will welcome onboard 6,000 people in three days including 2,300 seated at the naming ceremony on the quayside on Saturday evening.

Forget Brexit for the evening

‘I want the invitees to have a party – which is why we have included Nile Rodgers, Craig David, and Andrea and Matteo Bocelli to entertain us. I want people to be standing on their feet and partying. In the same month as Brexit we need some positivity in the country and MSC Cruises is going to bring it.’

Posted 01 March 2019

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Mary Bond

Publisher/Editor in Chief Seatrade Cruise News & Seatrade Cruise Review