MSC Cruises owner Gianluigi Aponte shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron as MSC Cruises' Pierfrancesco Vago watches on (Image: MSC Cruises)
MSC Cruises officially took delivery of its new MSC Meraviglia at STX France’s shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France on 31 May 2017.
MSC Meraviglia’s delivery was marked by a traditional flag ceremony. First, STX France’s pennant and the French flag were lowered to the tune of the French national anthem, before the yard’s CEO Laurent Castaing formally handed the ship to Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Cruises’ owner. Aponte then gave command of MSC Meraviglia to her master Raffaele Pontecorvo, before the ship’s flag and MSC Cruises’ pennant were raised.
Acting as godmothers during the ceremony, MSC Group’s CFO Alexa Aponte-Vago and Zoe Africa Vago, daughter of MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, cut the ribbon to break a bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull. MSC Meraviglia’s siren then sounded three blasts to close the ceremony, which was watched by Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and other French dignitaries.
“MSC Meraviglia’s coming into service marks a key milestone in the history and future of our company,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman. “She represents the first realisation of our long-term vision for further significant growth, which, in its first phase, culminated with MSC Cruises becoming two years ago the number one cruise brand across all of Europe, while on its way to further global growth.”
MSC Meraviglia is MSC Cruises’ 13th cruise ship and the first in the Meraviglia class. Weighing 171,598gt and able to accommodate 5,714 guests, the vessel is the biggest to ever be built by a European shipowner, and also the largest to enter service in 2017.
“We must celebrate the work of everyone – from all the workers of our partner STX France to MSC Cruises’ newbuilds team, to each and every supplier and sub-supplier who has contributed to turning our vision into reality, and everyone at MSC who has worked ashore and onboard on this amazing project,” said Vago.
MSC Meraviglia will be christened during a ceremony in Le Havre, France on 3 June and will then embark on her inaugural cruise along the Atlantic coast and into the Mediterranean. Calls will include Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Barcelona, Spain; Marseille, France; and Genoa, Italy. The ship will the first if her regular seven-night itineraries on 11 June, sailing from Genoa to Naples and Messina in Italy, Valletta in Malta; Barcelona, Marseille and back to Genoa.
STX France has built all 13 of MSC Cruises’ ships and is to construct a further three over the next few years. The cruise company estimates that its total investment at STX France between 2003 and 2020 will amount to more than €7 billion.
“Delivering a ship is always a time of great emotion for the shipyard: it is the culmination of three years of intense work for our employees and those of our partners, who have spared no effort to deliver on the exact date and in the quality conditions desired by our client MSC Cruises, this first ship of the Meraviglia class,” said Laurent Castaing, STX France's CEO. “Benefiting from our advances in research and development from the ‘Ship of the Future’ programme supported by ADEME, this prototype is a great achievement that we can all be proud of and which allows us to look confidently at the next three ships.”