MSC Cruises has reached a series of major milestones in its historic 10-year fleet expansion strategy.
The company is investing approximately US$10 billion in the construction of 10 brand new mega-cruise ships over the next decade, and it has revealed now that its second Meraviglia-class vessel will be called MSC Bellissima. To be constructed at the STX shipyard in France, this 167,000-tonne ship is due to be delivered in spring 2019.
The naming announcement coincided with the float-out of the company’s first Meraviglia-class ship, MSC Meraviglia, from the French shipyard. Both vessels will be able to carry up to 4,500 passengers, making them the largest ships in MSC’s fleet. MSC Meraviglia is due to enter service in June 2017.
“MSC Bellissima is a name that embodies the beauty and the magnificence of this entire next generation of MSC Cruises ultramodern mega-ships, so rich with new features and amenities for guests of all ages and interests,” said Gianni Onorato, CEO of MSC Cruises.
“We are so pleased to be able to make this announcement on the very day that her sister ship, MSC Meraviglia, is touched for the first time by water, a moment that symbolises the real ‘birth’ of a ship.”
The Meraviglia-class ships will feature a series of new onboard amenities, including the Carousel Lounge where Cirque du Soleil artists will perform, a 96-metre-long promenade with an 80-metre-long LED “sky” that runs through the centre of the ship, and a larger MSC Yacht Club, the company’s luxury area for VIP passengers which spans three decks.
But while the 167,000-tonne Meraviglia-class ships will become the company’s largest ships, they won’t hold that title for long. In 2019 and 2020, MSC plans to take delivery of two 177,000-tonne Meraviglia Plus II-class vessels, and then from 2022 to 2026 it expects to welcome four 200,000-tonne World-class cruise ships. In addition, three Seaside-class ships will be delivered from 2017 to 2021.
The third major milestone in MSC’s expansion strategy was a traditional coin ceremony undertaken at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, which marked the official start of construction for the company’s first Seaside-class vessel, MSC Seaside.