The first steel for MSC Cruises' new Vista generation of megaships was cut at STX France, during a ceremony in Saint-Nazaire, recently.
At the steel-cutting ceremony, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said that the cutting-edge 5700-guest, 167,600-GRT ship - due to be delivered in May 2017 and open for bookings from June 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 Europe-based cruise line," said Pierfrancesco 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. MSC Meraviglia brings together the industry know-how of MSC Cruises and the expertise of one of the most advanced shipyards in the world. Today, building started on a true maritime marvel."
STX France's GM, Laurent Castaing, added: "Since March 2014, more than 400 people from our various teams have been working tirelessly to define the special features of a ship that, I am certain will set the standard for its generation. This extraordinary project is testament to MSC Cruises' visionary approach, and we are proud to collaborate with them through our capacity for innovation and know-how."
A decisive milestone
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 5.1 billion euro investment 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."
Designed for unrivalled agility, MSC Meraviglia and the other forthcoming Vista project ships will be perfectly able to call at any cruise port in the world, meaning guests from around the world will now be able to explore more of the best destinations on one of MSC Cruises' next generation ships.
Among the ships' manifold features will also be specially crafted 'cluster cabins' for families, and an extended MSC Yacht Club, the wholly self-contained luxury area on the foredecks, which will be enhanced with duplex suites, a vast solarium and a private lounge and restaurant. They will be packed with extraordinary features that make them ideal for cruising in summer and winter, including wide dining options and entertainment choices, stunning panoramic spaces, a large theatre and a spectacular amusement park linked to an outdoor aqua park, as well as a three-deck interior promenade.
MSC Meraviglia will also feature a range of technological advancements, such as 'Near Field Communication' technology, enabling guests to make on-board payments, access their cabins or geo-locate children, among other features, using their cruise card, bracelet or smartphone. Another feature will be a 480m² LED screen, which forms the entire ceiling of the ship's interior promenade. Like a digital sky, this LED image vault will beam out compelling images and vistas day and night - including scheduled visual events - creating a variety of powerful atmospheres at all times.
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 programme to create cleaner, smarter, more efficient ships. They will be water emission free, and their hulls and propulsion systems will be optimised for extreme energy efficiency. Scrubber technology will neutralise 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