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MSC announces five senior appointments for luxury brand

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L-R: Christopher Austin, Thatcher Brown, Sarah Doyle, Sacha Rougier and John Stoll
Five senior executives with experience within and outside cruising have been tapped to join the luxury brand of MSC Group’s cruise division which is building new ships.

They and their roles are as follows: Chris Austin, chief sales officer; Sarah Doyle, chief marketing officer, Thatcher Brown, commercial and strategic advisor; Sacha Rougier, head of itinerary planning and shore experience and John Stoll, destination experience advisor.

The new management team are based in Geneva (apart from US-based Austin) and is headed by CEO Michael Ungerer, who joined MSC in 2019.

‘The leaders of the new brand bring more than 100 years of combined knowledge and expertise in the luxury, hospitality and cruise sectors,’ commented Ungerer.

He added, ‘Together they will create a luxury and lifestyle travel experience as distinct as it is trailblazing, exceeding the expectations of both discerning cruisers seeking something different, those new to cruising and nextgenlux travellers curious to start.’

Chris Austin

Austin was most recently SVP global sales and marketing for four years at Seabourn Cruise Line. He previously worked for almost 20 years leading sales for the luxury brand portfolio at Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Sarah Doyle

Doyle joins from Barcadi Lts Europe where she most recently held the position of VP marketing and previously spent six years at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, initially responsible for brand partnerships, then as global brand director for W Hotels Worldwide. Prior to her hospitality career, Doyle for 10 years oversaw American Express’ cardmember programmes at Momentum Worldwide.  

Thatcher Brown

Brown most recently was president of Dream Cruises and MD of Crystal Cruises Asia at Genting Hong Kong for four years. Brown had served as VP on-board revenue and product development at Costa Cruises. Other jobs included directing sales and marketing for the Jumeirah Essex House in Manhattan and working as VP brand strategy and management for the Jumeirah Group.

Sacha Rougier

Rougier was md of Cruise Gate Hamburg for nearly six years and managed the completion of two new cruise terminals, overseeing a 73% increase in passenger numbers. Previously she was business development manager for five years with the Port of Marseille.

John Stoll

Stoll worked as VP land programmes for 17 years at Crystal Cruises and was previously director land programmes at Silversea Cruises for more than five years.

Ungerer added, ‘As momentum builds towards the reveal of our vision, our top team will continue to grow, with further highly talented and experienced appointments in people, product and culinary roles.

‘We’re getting ready to share our vision of luxury ocean travel with our trade partners when we will  present our fleet, showcase our luxury vessels’ innovative designs and demonstrate what I believe will be a best-in-class guest experience for existing and future clients.’

The first 63,900gt vessel for the luxury brand will be delivered in 2023 from Fincantieri, and features what MSC said will be 461 of the largest suites at sea, all with ocean front balconies or terraces.

Subsequent deliveries are slated for 2024, 2025 and 2026.

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