MSC Cruises has taken another significant step in its fleet expansion plans, with the signing of a letter of intent for four new mega-ships.
The deal with the STX shipyard in France will lead to the creation of a new class of vessel for MSC, “World Class”, which will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The four ships, the first of which will be delivered in 2022, will all exceed 200,000 gross tonnes, making them among the largest cruise ships in the world.
The latest order means that MSC now plans to receive 11 brand new cruise ships between 2017 and 2026, with a total investment of approximately EUR9 billion (US$10.2bn).
The announcement was made in Paris by MSC’s founder Gianluigi Aponte and STX’s CEO Laurent Castaing, the presence of French President François Hollande.
“Today’s announcement is further proof of our view that this industry presents significant opportunities for additional growth going forward for both our brand and product,” said MSC’s executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago. “For this reason, our 10-plus year investment plan now encompasses up to 11 new MSC Cruises ships coming into service between 2017 and 2026.
“The new MSC Cruise World Class prototype will feature, amongst other highly innovative elements, a futuristic design that will maximise the open space available to our guests.”
While details of the new World Class ships have not been revealed, Vago said that they will be the “richest yet in terms of amenities and features for guests and families, have a cutting edge design, feature the latest and the best state-of-the-art smart technology and use the most advanced environmentally-friendly technology available with LNG-propelled engines”.
“Most importantly,” he added, “it will be a ship for all seasons and all regions.”
The letter of intent includes two firm orders and two options. If both options are taken up, the four ships will be delivered in 2022, 2024, 2025 and 2026. They will become the largest cruise ships ever operated by MSC.
The four new 200,000-gross tonne World Class ships add to MSC’s outstanding orders for two 167,600-gross tonne Vista Class ships, two 177,100-gross tonne Meraviglia-Plus vessels and three 154,000-gross tonne Seaside Class ships.
At present, only Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class vessels exceed 200,000 gross tonnes.