|MSC Cruises' First Next Generation Ship Named "MSC Meraviglia"|
MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately-owned cruise company, marked a key milestone in its $5.4 billion growth plan today as the first steel for its new Vista generation of megaships was cut at STX France, during a ceremony in Saint-Nazaire.
At the steel-cutting ceremony, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago told assembled press and dignitaries that the cutting-edge 4,500 guest (double occupancy), 167,600-GRT ship — due to be delivered in May 2017 and open for bookings fromJune 2015 — will be named MSC Meraviglia. She will spend her first summer sailing the western Mediterranean, and will be the first to have three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.
"MSC Meraviglia will be the biggest and most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line," saidPierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman. "We chose a name that denotes the sense of awe and wonderment felt when you experience the ship's stunning features, which only an MSC cruise, with its unique Mediterranean-style, can deliver. MSC Meraviglia brings together the industry knowhow of MSC Cruises, a young, bold company built upon 300 years of seafaring tradition and the expertise of one of the most advanced shipyards in the world. Today, building started on a true maritime marvel."
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer said: "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 $5.4 billioninvestment plan."
He added: "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."
MSC Meraviglia is the first of two identical ships on order from STX France, the second of which will be entered in to service in 2019. In addition, MSC Cruises has options for two further Vista project ships to be delivered by 2022.
The Vista project is the result of a lengthy development process under STX's ECORIZON® program to create cleaner, smarter, more efficient ships. They will be water emission free, and their hulls and propulsion systems will be optimized for extreme energy efficiency. Scrubber technology will neutralize fumes and CO2 emissions in accordance with the latest international maritime regulations. In addition, the ship is fully compliant with the Safe return to Port requirement.
MSC Cruises, which has grown by 800% in terms of onboard capacity since 2004, carried 1.67 million guests in 2014 and generated a turnover of $1.6 billion. For 2015, MSC Cruises is forecasting an additional 10% growth.