MSC Cruises’ first 6,334-passenger Meraviglia-Plus mega ship – one of the two largest ships ever built for a European cruise line – is to be named MSC Grandiosa.
The announcement was made today by Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC executive chairman, at the steel cutting ceremony for the ship held at the STX France shipyard in Saint Nazaire. It marked another milestone in MSC’s €9 billion investment programme to build 11 new ships by 2026, one of the largest expansion plans ever witnessed in the cruise industry. Six of the new ships will be in service by November 2020, resulting in the line doubling its fleet capacity in just three-and-a-half years.
The shipyard also hosted the traditional keel-laying ceremony for MSC Bellissima which, with MSC Grandiosa, will be launched in 2019. The longstanding maritime tradition involves a lucky coin being welded into the ship’s hull. MSC’s second Meraviglia-Plus ship will be delivered by STX France in 2020.
The mega ships are an evolution of the Meraviglia ships, which include MSC Bellissima. They will feature the first fine art museums at sea, with a collection of classic and contemporary art, as well as Cirque du Soleil shows which debuted on MSC Meraviglia.
MSC Bellissima’s inaugural summer season in the Mediterranean is now on sale and the opening of sales for MSC Grandiosa will be announced soon.
Antonio Paradiso, MD of MSC Cruises for the UK & Ireland said: “We opened sales for MSC Bellissima in May and are already registering strong booking trends for the ship. MSC Bellissima is a ship rich in onboard facilities and it is this choice and variety that is driving demand.
“According to the CLIA stats released earlier this year, 53% of people stated that they chose a ship based on the onboard facilities and entertainment, and MSC Bellissima is the perfect ship for those who seek choice, entertainment and variety. With two Cirque du Soleil shows exclusive to the ship, over 20 restaurants and bars, and an indoor Sportplex with a 4D cinema & full size bowling alley, MSC Bellissima is an ultra- modern mega ship built to cater to multi-generational families.”
The two ships showcased in today’s ceremony are part of MSC’s investment plan which includes the development of new prototypes for each of its three new classes of ships – the Meraviglia, Seaside and World Class. This June saw the launch of the first of these new ships, MSC Meraviglia. In December MSC Seaside will come into service and MSC Seaview will join the fleet in June 2018. These two ships are currently being built at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard.
Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France, said: “Today as we celebrate a cutting of the first steel and then a keel-laying in the same day, we are living an unprecedented experience that marks the beginning of a new era, both for our client and for our yard. For MSC Cruises, it is the realisation of an extraordinary investment plan, which will elevate the company to become one of the three largest players in the global cruise industry; for us, it is the illustration of our very healthy order book, which leads us to deliver two ships a year until 2022.”