'Europeans, like the rest of the world, love the Caribbean,' he said.
Global expansion plans
Having established itself as Europe's largest cruise brand, MSC is expanding its operations globally, and the Caribbean is getting a hefty share of deployment. This season five ships are homeporting there, in Bridgetown, Cozumel, Havana, Fort-de-France and Pointe-à-Pitre.
Plus, the line's Miami-based ships are being filled with Europeans, he said.
Opportunity to source new markets
'This is an amazing growth opportunity for this region. We source from 70 markets. Last year, we had 170 nationalities on our cruises. As we source passengers, we're also promoting your region across the world. This is an opportunity to start opening the Caribbean in a big way to the rest of the world,' Vago told an audience including Caribbean heads of state, tourism and port officials.
Europe now has a 27% share of global cruise capacity, and Asia is growing fast. Two weeks ago, the MSC chief attended Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific in Shanghai, where he also keynoted. 'Their new cruise terminal is one of the very best that I have ever seen,' he said, adding that what China is doing to grow the cruise market is 'simply unbelievable.'
Will Caribbean hold or grow its cruise share?
With more than 110 new ships being introduced in the next nine years, will the Caribbean be able to increase or hold its world-leading 35% cruise market share? Vago asked.
'The '80s are long gone. The status quo can no longer work,' he said, telling the region that partnership with the cruise industry can go a long way, as it did during hurricane recovery.
'We all need to work together to provide the best possible customer experience,' Vago urged. 'This is something that none of us can do alone.'