MSC Cruises revealed that its fourth Meraviglia-class ship will be named MSC Virtuosa at her steel-cutting ceremony (Image: MSC Cruises)
MSC Cruises has ordered a fifth Meraviglia-class cruise ship, cut the steel for its fourth Meraviglia-class ship, laid the keel for MSC Grandiosa and floated out MSC Bellissima – all in one ceremony at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.
Held on 14 June, the jam-packed ceremony saw MSC Cruises and STX France sign a contract for the €900 million (US$1.06bn) newbuild, which will be the first in the Meraviglia class to have dual-fuel engines powered by LNG. The 6,335-guest vessel will also have an advanced wastewater purification system to ensure she complies with the world’s strictest environmental regulations when she debuts in 2023.
The newbuild is the 13th vessel to be ordered as part of MSC Cruises’ 10-year investment plan. Others include MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside (in service since 2017), the recently christened MSC Seaview (2018), MSC Bellissima and MSC Grandiosa (to launch in 2019), MSC Virtuosa (to debut in 2020), two Seaside Evo vessels (one in 2021 and one in 2023) and four World Class vessels (to launch from 2022 onwards).
“With the announcement of yet another new vessel, the 13th under our 10-year investment plan, we are affirming our commitment to sustainable growth for our company,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman. “Our fifth Meraviglia-class cruise ship will bring a new generation of cutting-edge environmental technology to the market, benefiting from a new generation of LNG-powered engines. This will help us further reduce our environmental footprint and advance in our journey of constant improvement. She will be joined at sea by up to four World Class LNG-powered ships, as part of our overall commitment to environmental stewardship through this and other next-generation technologies and solutions deployed fleet-wide.”
The news was revealed just before MSC Bellissima was floated out of STX France’s building dock for the first time. MSC Bellissima, which will now remain at the yard for final outfitting ahead of her sea trials, will be christened at the UK’s Port of Southampton in March 2019.
STX France also laid the keel for MSC Bellissima’s sister ship MSC Grandiosa on 14 June, commemorating the construction milestone with a traditional coin ceremony. The vessel will be christened at the Port of Hamburg in Germany in November 2019.
In addition, the shipyard cut the steel for the fourth Meraviglia-class vessel, which MSC Cruises revealed will be named MSC Virtuosa when she debuts in 2020.
This marks the first time in history that three ships are being constructed simultaneously for one cruise brand at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard.