As a boy I was obsessed with all forms of transport. I used Lego and Meccano to build exotic flying machines, cars and ships. If you gave me a few empty boxes, I would rustle up some crazy flying machine, train or vessel to play in. Unfortunately my skill was best described as being “imaginative and conceptual” than practical, and so I never found my way into engineering or construction of planes, trains or ships. Today I live my boyhood passion for transportation as a geek admiring the feats of others.
I was, therefore, delighted as part of my Official MSC Preziosa Blogger role, to get to exclusively interview someone who does not have to play at building travel marvels, as his job is actually doing it!
Exclusive interview with Andrea Gangale, responsible for the on-board features on MSC Preziosa
Andrea Gangale is the MSC Cruises Corporate Product Officer, and he is in-charge of deciding what exciting things will be added into their ships. I like to think it is a bit like I used to do when constructing my Lego and Meccano ships – but he does it for real. A qualified Naval Architect, he spent many years working on new ship-builds for Carnival, the main line of the massive Carnival Corporation that also owns cruise lines like Cunard, P&O, Costa and Holland America. Since joining MSC he has worked on the MSC Divina and now the MSC Preziosa from its inception.
In the interview you will hear about:
The process that goes into building a ship,
The firsts and unique features he has put into the MSC Preziosa (newest ship in the MSC Fleet) and
How he and MSC plan to satisfy the 186 different nationalities that cruise with them every year
You can listen to my 30 minute audio interview with Andrea Gangale by using the online player below exclusively online until 23 March when it will then also be available to download by subscribing to the Tips for Travellers Podcast on iTunes or the RSS Feed.
Below are some things he spoke about that stood out for me, and why they stood out:
MSC Cruises is one of the youngest cruise companies in the world, although MSC has been in shipping for decades.
- This interests me as I am used to cruising on lines with a very long history, like Cunard and P&O who have centuries of heritage and set habits. He made me even more excited about my forthcoming cruise with MSC as I am now keen to see first hand just what a company new to cruising, without that locked in heritage and ways of doing things, has done to create their own new experience.
MSC Cruises is the only “Mediterranean Style and Heritage” Cruise Line in a cruise industry dominated by American (Carnival, Royal Caribbean) and British (Cunard, P&O) style cruise companies.
- I am interested to see how MSC Cruises bring the “Med Experience” to life, and how they do something different to the American and British cruise lines that I am most familiar with. Like many cruisers, I am seeing a more harmonised cruise offering and experience across the American and British cruise brands, no doubt driven by the fact that 2 large corporations (Carnival and Royal Caribbean) own most cruise lines across the world today.
MSC Cruises is the only cruise line with a ship-within-ship concept (the Yacht Club). This is a separate section of 69 suites with their own restaurant, bar, deck areas and private access to the spa. Yacht Club passengers can venture out into the rest of the ship, but other passengers can not venture in.
- This is very different to what I am used to, as even on Cunard with their Queens and Princess Grills, the suites are dotted around the ship. On Cunard, while there are some specific lounges and dedicated dining rooms, the Queens and Princess Grill is not a whole dedicated ship-within-ship. I am expecting it to feel special and exclusive, and so am keen finding out more about this ship-within-ship while I am on-board.
It takes at least 3 years to design and build a new “class” of ship. A “class” means a new design, style and size of ship. Once it is developed, it is used as the base for subsequent ships, which can then take about a year or so to build as all the development and fine tuning has been done. MSC Preziosa is a “Fantasia” Class ship, and will join 3 sister ships using the same base design in the fleet (MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida and MSC Divina).
- I am more used to the “one off” transatlantic liner designs, QE2 and QM2, and the “Vista” class ship design that is used for the newest Cunard ships (Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth) and the P&O ship “Arcadia” that I have cruised on 3 times. I am intrigued to see how the “Fantasia” class design differs both outside when I see it in real life, and most importantly inside the ship.
MSC Preziosa has many new features incorporated into the ship, including the longest water slide at sea (which he says is 120 metres long) and the first “Eataly” chain restaurants at sea (a fast growing international chain of Italian food).
- I adore waterslide rides, and so I am plotting how to manage to line up with all the kids and keep going on the ride without looking like a totally crazy person! I am used to the more usual pools and outside sports, and so the slide is high on my list of desires. I love cruising and I love waterparks – and looks like I will, for the first time, get to combine the two!
MSC uses 6 languages in all their on-board communication and daily programs to reflect their diverse passenger mix: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German. But they then boost that based on what nationalities are on-board.
- I am used to being on mono language ships having cruised with UK based lines more. These usually will have social hosts covering groups like French or Germans, but I am more used to being on ships where 80% – 90% of the passengers are english speaking. I am looking forward to the United Nations, or at least a mini Euro Zone, experience which will, I suspect, create a very different and eclectic feel and vibe.
The food and entertainment on MSC is tailored to the ports being visited, and so changes to reflect the destination to ensure people discover and experience the locality. This again is going to be interesting.
- I am more used to entertainment and food being destination “neutral” on most cruises I have been on. Most cruise lines load up their food in their home ports for the full cruise based on well established menus, the entertainment is designed to reflect the home country for familiarity reasons and both, in my experience, have had little divergence – no matter where I have sailed to. This is going to be something unique to experience, and seems a much more interesting approach. Though logistically much more challenging.
Listen to the full interview with Andrea Gangale of MSC Cruises online now using the player below. You can also subscribe to the Tips for Travellers Podcast on iTunes or RSS feed and hear future MSC Cruise Podcasts when they are posted:
- What did you find most fascinating or interesting in the interview? Please leave a comment below.
- To follow all of my MSC Preziosa posts sign up for the newsletter and visit the dedicated page: tipsfortravellers.com/msc
- If you enjoyed the post and podcast please share using the social media sharing buttons below.
Help me to improve the Tips for Travellers blog by doing a short 10 question survey online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/tipsfortravellers