MSC Cruises is a division of the larger MSC Group, most known for its container shipping division, Mediterranean Shipping Company. While that shipping branch is the world’s second largest company for shipping container cargo, MSC Cruises is the fourth largest company offering passenger cruises. It accounted for 5.2 percent of all passengers in 2015.
The history of MSC Cruises goes back to the founding of MSC in 1970 in Italy. The MSC Group was founded as a private company, headquartered in Switzerland, and remains privately-owned today. MSC Cruises offers services in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Caribbean, and many other worldwide locations. While MSC Cruises has been successful and is responsible for a large share of the market, it has also experienced accidents that have put workers and passengers at risk.
About MSC Cruises
As the fourth largest cruising company in the world, MSC Cruises offers itineraries in the Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean, South America, South Africa, Northern Europe, and the Middle East. It leads the market in the Mediterranean, South American, and South African regions. Since 2004 the cruise line has grown by 800 percent, and in 2014 it serviced 1.67 million cruising passengers. It operates in 45 countries and employs more than 15,000 people.
The parent company of MSC Cruises, MSC Group, has its origins in Naples in 1970. Founder Gianluigi Aponte came from a family with a long history of maritime activities and started MSC with just one ship offering cargo delivery between the Mediterranean and Somalia. As the company grew by buying second-hand vessels and eventually ordering new ships, it added cruising to its list of services and cruise ships to its fleet.
MSC Cruises was begun in 1984 when MSC purchased a small cruise line and operator. This was a Naples-based company called Lauro Lines, which began operations in the 1960s with just two ships: the Angelina Lauro and the MS Achille Lauro. The first name for MSC’s new cruising division was StarLaura Cruises, but after losing the two original ships it renamed it MSC Cruises.
MSC invested in its cruise ship fleet in 2003 in an attempt to develop a world-class set of ships with state-of-the-art services, equipment, and safety features. Today the fleet includes 12 ships, with four in each of three classes. The flagships are the four Fantasia ships, each one weighing in around 140,000 tons. These are the largest ships in the MSC Cruises fleet and can house over 4,000 passengers each.
The four Musica ships weigh around 90,000 tons and can accommodate nearly 3,000 travelers in each. The third class of ships is the Lirica Class. These four ships each weigh around 60,000 tons and can take just under 2,000 passengers on board at one time. The Lirica ships recently underwent updates to add better entertainment for passengers as well as more cabins and additional technology.
According to MSC Cruises, the company is dedicated to protecting the environment and keeping passengers safe on board their ships. The company is the first cruise line to be awarded ‘7 Golden Pearls,’ an award given by the international certification group Bureau Veritas. The award was given to acknowledge the efforts taken aboard the Fantasia ships to prevent environmental contamination. These include energy efficiency and water, waste, and air treatment systems.
As for passenger safety, MSC Cruises claims to abide by the requirements of the International Maritime Organization, an agency of the United Nations. The company also says that it goes beyond those requirements for the safety of passengers and that it extensively trains crews in how to react to emergency situations and evacuate ships safely.
Accidents and Dangers in Cruising
Despite these measures, taking thousands of people out to sea is always risky. Cruise companies like MSC Cruises have a responsibility to their passengers and workers to take all reasonable precautions to keep them safe. Crew and passengers can be harmed by on board fires, power outages, food-borne illnesses, contagious illnesses, collisions, rough weather, falls overboard, fights and assaults, and many other dangers.
Cruise ships are even at risk of being attacked by terrorists. Several passengers aboard the Splendida were killed in such an attack in 2015 in Tunisia. The passengers had disembarked and were touring the National Bardo Museum in Tunis when terrorists attacked the building. Several people were killed, including at least 12 passengers from the Splendida. Cruise companies like MSC Cruises are considering the risk of terrorist attacks now more than ever before. They must add it to the list of possible dangers, even when it occurs off the ship. The cruise line is responsible for where it takes its passengers and crew and after this incident many stopped all visits to Tunisia.
Losing passengers and crew members overboard is another big concern for cruise lines. In 2013 a passenger fell overboard from the MSC Fantasia in the waters off of Brazil. The passenger fell from the eleventh deck into the water and was not recovered. In 2012 a passenger on the same ship also fell from an upper deck and died. In 2014 an inebriated passenger jumped overboard from the MSC Davina and could not be recovered.
Overboard falls on cruise ships are often incidents, accidents, or crimes that go unsolved. In many cases, alcohol is involved. In the case of the Davina incident, the man had been drinking for two days straight as described by his passengers. It was the responsibility of the crew, and ultimately MSC Cruises, to prevent such accidents by better controlling drinking and out of control passengers.
Safety on board cruise ships is a major concern. MSC Cruises and other companies are responsible for the welfare of thousands of people, passengers and crew alike. They must take all necessary precautions to prevent accidents because when they happen, people are likely to be hurt or killed. Passengers or their loved ones may sue the company for benefits and workers are protected by maritime laws that also extend that right. If you have been hurt on a cruise or lost a loved one on a cruise, talk to a maritime lawyer to find out what you can do to seek justice and compensation.