Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises is making waves again as it signs a letter of intent to build up to four new World-class ships. Two orders have already been locked in with the STX France shipyard, and another two options are pending - bringing the company's total future ship orders and options up to eleven through 2026.
The World class represents a third new prototype design as the cruise line's other Meraviglia- and Seaside-class ships are already under construction. The next design is set to measure in at over 200,000 tons and carry around 5,400 passengers in over 2,700 cabins. That would put the vessel squarely in between the largest and second largest ships in the world currently - Royal Caribbean International's 225,282-ton Oasis-class and 168,666-ton Quantum-class, respectively.
"Today's announcement is further proof, if needed, of our view that this industry presents significant opportunities for additional growth going forward for both our brand and product, as well as of our firm commitment to be best-positioned to capture them to the fullest," said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises executive chairman. "For this reason, our ten-plus year investment plan now encompasses up to eleven new MSC Cruises ships, coming into service between 2017 and 2026. It is also a reflection of our constant commitment to innovation, as we will partner with STX France to design yet again a completely new prototype - already the sixth in our history. In fact, in yet another industry first, the new MSC Cruises' World Class prototype will feature - amongst other highly innovative elements - a record-breaking, futuristically conceived design that will make the ship a truly unique place to be at sea, whilst maximizing the open air space available to guests."
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What's more, the World-class design will employ LNG (liquefied natural gas) power. Vago continued accordingly: "Our long-standing focus on innovation will make the new prototype quite unlike anything currently existing in the cruise industry. It will be: yet the richest in amenities and features for guests, for both families and their children as well as adults; cutting edge in design all-around; featuring the latest and the best state-of-the-art smart technology at sea; using the most-advanced environmentally-friendly technology available, all the way through the LNG-propelled engines. Moreover, it will be a ship for all seasons and for all regions."
The first two orders are set to launch in 2022 and 2024, and the additional options may launch beyond in 2025 and 2026. The four ship investment amounts to nearly $4.5 billion, upping MSC's upcoming decade-plus investment strategy to a staggering $10.2 billion. The funds include two Meraviglia-class ships, two Meraviglia Plus-class options and up to three Seaside-class ships, as well as the $227 million Renaissance Program that stretched the line's Lirica-class ships.
"We have just signed an unprecedented agreement with MSC Cruises which will give us a vision of our industrial capacity for the next ten years! We have had a good relationship with MSC Cruises for many years now, and this new agreement strengthens this further," said Laurent Castaing, STX Frances chief executive officer. "We have already designed four different classes for MSC Cruises - Lirica, Musica, Fantasia and Meraviglia - each with four ships, and now we are working together on this new generation of 'World class' ships. By 2026, that makes a total of 20 ships that will have been designed and built by STX France in Saint-Nazaire."
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Only the Seaside class is under construction elsewhere, at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. No further details nor renderings of the new World-class ships are available yet, including the ships' names, but stay tuned here as they emerge.
"MSC Cruises has been expanding its global footprint and fleet of state-of-the-art ships that combine cutting-edge technology, comfort and unrivaled entertainment with the lowest impact on the environment," added Castaing. "In order to achieve this next stage of growth, MSC Cruises have selected STX France for our unparalleled engineering and production capacities as part of a long-term partnership - a decision that pleases me immensely."
No other cruise line is accelerating their fleet growth to such a degree save for perhaps Crystal Cruises with a similarly rapid expansion that features smaller vessels and aircraft for the luxury market.
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