The Intercruises France & Monaco team, supported by the Intercruises Med and Global Platform teams, recently completed the largest and most complex operation they have ever handled, providing ground handling services for the MSC Meraviglia ship delivery, travel agent day, christening and inaugural cruise. The events took place between May 31 – June 4 at the St. Nazaire and Le Havre ports, with the latter being more commonly utilised for transit calls and partial turnarounds – an event of this magnitude had never been done here before.
“For Le Havre these were exceptional events, but from their shorex experience with us, MSC knew we had the operations expertise and local knowledge to deliver. Anne Espirito superbly managed all preparation and the operation in Le Havre, coordinating with the port, police and local officials, and liaising with the staffing agencies, coach and private transfer suppliers, which Anne organized extra early, anticipating high demand for services during Le Havre’s 500th Anniversary celebrations. Anne had great support from Sami Ezzeddine, who was the first to define our event team organization and helped strengthen our relationship with MSC.
Additionally, a big thanks to Chus, who created a completely new turnaround flow and embark plan for Le Havre. Also thanks to Pauline, Ludivine, Chris, Amine, Wen, Antonio, Ramon, Matteo, Alexia, Sergio, Vanessa and the rest of the team for a job very well done!” Said Amaury de Williencourt, National Manager France & Monaco
During the events, Intercruises provided Meet & Greet services, employing approximately 150 staff, organized 150 coach and 200 private transfers (most of which were the three hour journey between Paris & Le Havre), provided VIP tours in Paris and Normandy and embarked over 8000 people onto a new MSC ship, in a terminal at which MSC normally embarks approximately 100 guests.
Preparation: From the bidding time in October 2016, the team was constantly preparing for the event, including two trips to MSC in Geneva, three site inspections in Le Havre, a full review of the Le Havre terminal, the setup of a completely new guest flow (including having a 50m tent installed for 25 check in desks) and the creation of a temporary parking area for 300 independent guests, as well as weekly conference calls with MSC. Additionally, the team themselves had to be well organized, with activities taking place at Le Havre, Charles de Gaulle (which had a high security alert on June 4th) & Orly airports, Le Havre & Paris train stations and St. Nazaire & Le Havre ports, as well as communicating with the teams in the Le Havre, Marseille, Nice and Barcelona offices.
May 31st – The French President: Intercruises organized VIP transfers between Paris and St Nazaire as MSC took delivery of its newest ship. One unexpected challenge was the short notice that the newly elected French President, Emmanuel Macron, would be attending. The team had just a few hours to rearrange all transfers due to the heightened security, which meant that no vehicle could enter or exit the shipyard while the President was present.
June 2nd – The Travel Agents: The first of what would be three 12 hour working days for most of the team started with a last minute change to the check in system due to technical reasons as the first of approximately 2000 travel agents arrived at the port, but the embark was completed without further issue.
June 3rd – The Ceremony: A 7am start and exceptionally cold weather forced the team to purchase coats last minute for all staff positioned outside as they disembarked 2000 travel agents. Next focus was on ensuring smooth VIP transfer for the VVIPs:
- Sophia Loren, World Famous Academy Award Winning Italian Actress and Godmother of all recent MSC ships
- Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Founder
- Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises CEO
- Kids United, a French band and entertainment for the ceremony
During the day over 2000 VVIPs, VIPs and invitees would be embarked amid high security, with all vehicles checked by the Police and Port Security, as well as the Intercruises team to verify documentation. The ceremony was a success and the team was now focusing on last minute transfers for the late embarking guests and further last minute requirements for the day ahead.
June 4th – The Turnaround: Most of the 2000 invitees needed to be disembarked before the 4000 guests for the inaugural sailing could board. The Intercruises team worked with MSC Cruises to stagger the arrival times to ensure a smooth embarkation and avoid congestion in the small terminal. Due to technical reasons there were issues with the luggage loading meaning that Intercruises had to hold some buses to maintain an organized luggage flow. Additionally, last minute transfers had to be organized for 300 guests. Finally the ship sailed without incident as Le Havre’s largest ever cruise event came to a close and the cruise line was very pleased with the service:
“Dear Intercruises Team, On behalf of the MSC Ground Operation Dept I wish to thank you for the passion, the commitment, the enthusiastic power that you and your team put with no limit in the Christening of Meraviglia. We’ve worked all together as a great team as I’ve never seen before. We trusted each other and we’ve worked and lived together for 4 days in a mix of hyperactivity, last minute issues, pressure, smiles and success. All has been perfect.” Francesco Butturini, Ground Services Director, MSC Cruises
“You always welcomed us with smiles, professionalism and enthusiasm. And we feel to be an unique team with you.Thanks to All of you and your wonderful colleagues.” Roberta Naso, MSC Shore Excursion Department