MSC Cruises has celebrated the start of construction work on its new fleet of “megaships”.
A steel-cutting ceremony was held in France this week for the newly-named MSC Meraviglia – the first of a potential four new Vista-class ships that MSC is planning to develop, as part of a US$5.4 billion fleet expansion programme.
The new vessel will be among the largest cruise ships in the world, weighing 167,600 tonnes and carrying up to 4,500 guests. Due to be delivered in May 2017, MSC Meraviglia will spend its first season sailing the western Mediterranean from three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.
“This steel-cutting event marks a decisive milestone in the company’s development plan, one that will see MSC Cruises double its capacity by 2022 through up to seven new ships and a US$5.4bn investment plan,” said MSC’s CEO, Gianni Onorato.
“MSC Meraviglia will be one of the greenest and safest ships in the industry, as well as one of the most technologically advanced. We are thrilled that in just a few weeks guests can start booking this truly remarkable ship, which will bring cruise travellers to the most exciting destinations around the world in outstanding comfort and style.”
Key features of the new Vista-class ships include “cluster cabins” for families, luxury duplex suites, three-deck interior promenades and amusement parks linked to outdoor water parks.
Technological innovations will include allowing parents to geo-locate children using their cruise card, bracelet or smartphone, enabling onboard payments, and huge 480m² LED screens that will form the entire ceilings of the ships’ interior promenades.
MSC Meraviglia is the first of two identical ships on order, the second of which will enter service in 2019. In addition, MSC has options for two further Vista-class ships to be delivered by 2022.