f1_simulatorMSC Cruises has been a regular trackside advertiser at Formula 1TM races around the world for the past several years.  They even have a Formula 1 Simulator aboard the MSC Fantasia.

But they aren't just settling for sponsorships at the racetrack. They are aggressively getting into the race to acquire market share in the growing cruise industry.

MSC Cruises just launched its tenth ship - the MSC Splendida in Barcelona. The Splendida is the sister ship of the MSC Fantasia, launched last December 2008. She was the largest ship ever build by a European owner, carrying 3,959 guests.  The MSC Poesia was introduced the March prior and the MSC Magnifica comes into service March 2010.  Moreover, MSC unveils two more new ships MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa in 2011 and 2012.

Head swirling?  Here is a chart to help you get you oriented.

Date Passengers
MSC Poesia Mar ‘08 3,013
MSC Fantasia Dec ’08 3,959
MSC Splendida July ’09 3,959
MSC Magnifica Mar ’10 3,013
MSC Meraviglia 2011 1,245
MSC Favolosa 2012 1,275

That is 130% growth in passenger capacity in just five years.  What is the impact on market share?  From a worldwide market share in 2009 of 4.3% to 5.1% in 2012.  Doesn't sound like much?  That eight tenth of an extra percentage point alone means $230 million in gross revenue from a $29 billion 2012 worldwide cruise market.

Another eye opener, the MSC Fantasia was scheduled to host U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other leaders from Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada at the G8 "Group of Eight" Summit in Italy early July. While those plans were scrapped when Silvio Berlusconi switched the venue from La Maddalena to L'Aquila, MSC Cruises nevertheless remains on a fast track.