Executives at MSC Bellissima's delivery ceremony (Image: MSC Cruises)
Chantiers de l’Atlantique delivered MSC Bellissima to MSC Cruises and held a keel-laying ceremony for MSC Virtuosa at its yard in Saint-Nazaire, France on 27 February.
MSC Bellissima, which is the second ship in the Meraviglia class, was handed over to Gianluigi Aponte, founder and executive chairman of MSC Group, and Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises. The ceremony was also attended by Laurent Castaing, general manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique, as well as other regional and local authorities and dignitaries.
Following the ceremony, MSC Bellissima departed the shipyard for Southampton, UK, where she will be christened by godmother and Academy Award-winning actress Sophia Loren in a ceremony hosted by English TV presenter Holly Willoughby. The vessel will embark on her maiden voyage on 4 March, sailing to Genoa, Italy where she will homeport for her inaugural season and offer Western Mediterranean cruises. In November 2019, she will begin sailing weekly itineraries from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, before repositioning to Asia for in spring 2020.
“This new outstanding ship is another evidence of the quality of the long-term partnership we have established between MSC Cruises and Chantiers de l’Atlantique during these last 20 years,” said Castaing. “We bring each time all our expertise and innovation capability to deserve the confidence of our customers: this is a real success story for our two companies.”
Chantiers de l’Atlantique also laid first block of keel for MSC Virtuosa, the second of three Meraviglia Plus-class ships, which feature larger tonnage and guest capacity than MSC Meraviglia and MSC Bellissima. The construction milestone was marked with a traditional coin ceremony, where Elise Guérin, project manager at Chantiers de l’Atlantique, and Helen Huang, president of Greater China at MSC Cruises, placing coins under the block to bring good luck to the ship.
MSC Virtuosa will be delivered in November 2020, just over a year after the first Meraviglia Plus-class vessel, MSC Grandiosa, which will be handed over the MSC Cruises this October. Chantiers de l’Atlantique will also build the third Meraviglia Plus vessel.
“Today’s delivery marks another chapter in the story of our partnership with Chantiers de l’Atlantique,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman. “Together we have already brought to life 14 highly-innovative cruise ships, paving the way for our company’s initial growth. Many more will be built together over the coming years to further deepen the reach of our fleet. Furthermore, MSC Bellissima’s elegance and beauty, as well as focus on the best and latest maritime and environmental technology at sea, bear testament to our restless pursuit for innovation.”
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