New position strengthens commercial sales leadership as the fastest growing cruise brand in the world celebrates a milestone of four ships operating from the US market
MSC Cruises USA — the North American arm of MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based world’s largest privately-owned cruise line — announced today that, effective October 16, Michelle Lardizabal has been named SVP & Commercial Sales Officer, a new position for the company responsible for overseeing the entire U.S. sales organization.
The recent arrival of MSC Meraviglia to the U.S. marks the first time in the company’s history that four ships will be sailing from the region, including MSC Seaside, MSC Divina, MSC Armonia and MSC Meraviglia. The brands long-term growth commitment to the market is not only marked by increased ships, but by the soon to open Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve — MSC Cruises’ new private island destination in The Bahamas — as well as a new state-of-the-art double berth cruise terminal being built at PortMiami.
“Now is a critical time for MSC Cruises as consumer demand and significant growth in capacity requires the full support of our valued travel advisors,” said Ken Muskat, EVP & Chief Operating Officer of MSC Cruises USA. “The full commitment of our field and inside sales teams to supporting travel advisors, continued advancements to automated tools such as MSC Book, our very successful “Get On Board” program, and frequent Seminars at Sea, are just some of the countless ways the entire MSC Cruises’ team is working daily to show its dedication and support to the trade community. We’re thrilled to welcome Michelle to the MSC Cruises’ team as she brings industry expertise that will take our trade support to the next level as we aim to be the easiest and most supportive cruise brand to work with.”
Reporting directly to Muskat, Lardizabal will drive the overall strategy of the commercial sales organization. Within her organization Lori Sheller, SVP of Strategic Accounts, will continue to be responsible for driving the relationships MSC Cruises holds with the industry’s largest travel consortia and key accounts, adding to her portfolio MICE and Charters as well as Casino business, critical growth areas for the company.
“Returning to the cruise industry which I know and love is very exciting. Joining MSC Cruises, the cruise brand that has the most aggressive and exciting growth plans in the U.S. market — with the ability to bring my experience from cruise, tour and land-based businesses to this next phase of MSC’s future — is an opportunity I couldn’t resist,” said Lardizabal. “I have a passion for building strong partner relationships and bringing out the best in each of my team members. I look forward to working with the talented group of individuals within MSC as well as with our valued travel advisors to ensure we succeed together.”
Lardizabal’s love for sales and travel has driven her to a career building best in class sales organizations. With 25 years of sales experience, Lardizabal joins MSC Cruises after leading the U.S. sales organization at Club Med where she was a member of their Executive Committee and worldwide Leadership Committee. Prior to that she was Vice President of Sales for City Wonders, a European guided tour company, where she successfully steered their global sales efforts as the company sought new destinations and distribution. Michelle also spent more than a decade at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. in a variety of roles including Director of Inside Sales & Training, Director of Field Sales and Associate VP of Global Sales & Distribution.