Geneva, Switzerland, 1 February 2016 – Today at the coin ceremony for MSC Meraviglia held in Saint-Nazaire, France, MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, confirmed ahead of time the existing STX France options to build a further two ships in the Meraviglia class. Furthermore, the two Meraviglia-Plus next-generation ships, as the new class of vessels is called, will feature increased tonnage and overall size, with a total of 2,444 cabins and a maximum LSA (passengers + crew) of 8,000.
The two new units will now be due for delivery respectively in October 2019 and September 2020, thus anticipating by nearly two years the delivery of the last of the now four Meraviglia STX France-made ships.
In another MSC Cruises industry-first, the two Meraviglia-Plus ships will feature the first and only classic and contemporary fine art museum at sea.
Held at the STX France shipyard – also in the presence of the country’s Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Sector Mr Emmanuel Macron and of Mr Edouard Philippe, the Mayor of Le Havre and a Member of Parliament – the traditional, centuries-old coin ceremony presented the opportunity to showcase to media and other key stakeholders attending the progress made on the work of MSC Meraviglia, which will come into service in June 2017.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman commented: “Our long-standing cooperation with STX-France and the continued growth of our business allows me today to confirm well-ahead of time the existing options for two additional ships. The two Meraviglia-Plus vessels will be even larger and longer as well as richer in features and amenities, thus confirming MSC Cruises as the industry’s boldest innovator when it comes to ship design and experiences we create for our guests.”
Minister Macron added: “Built here in Saint Nazaire like the rest of the MSC fleet of cruise ships, MSC Meraviglia will also be christened in France, proof of the strong ties between the MSC group and France. The order of two new Meraviglia class ships, to be delivered in 2019 and 2020, that we are celebrating today, is further proof of MSC's loyalty to the Saint Nazaire shipyards and recognition of the excellence and savoir faire of STX's staff and subcontractors.”
Laurent Castaing, President of STX France, commented: "This order extends a unique and remarkable partnership that we have built with MSC Cruises over the years that we have been constructing their ships. The proof lies in the quality of our relationship with a discerning client that trusts us and by the experience during the projects by our respective teams, who have learned to innovate together to give the MSC Cruises fleet outstanding levels of modernity, performance and safety. We are very proud to contribute to the development and success of our client, whose ambitions have already made them one of the world's leading ship owners.”
MSC Cruises today also announced that MSC Meraviglia will be christened in Le Havre, France.
Mr Vago added: “Standing here at the STX France shipyard for the coin ceremony for the 11th time is a reflection of how strong our ties are with France, which is where all the ships of our current fleet were built. This makes MSC Cruises, when it comes to export contracts, the number one foreign private investor in France – having invested over €8 billion over the period - and one of the leading overall investors.”
“For this reason, I am proud to announce that MSC Meraviglia could not but be christened in France, in the beautiful UNESCO-listed port of Le Havre on 1 June 2017. From there, it will then set forth for its inaugural season to be spent in the Mediterranean, home porting in another French port, Marseille.”
The MSC Cruises Meraviglia-Plus class is the next-level generation of ships for all seasons. With its elegant, cutting-edge design and exceptional features, the elegant side of the Mediterranean, which lies at the heart of the MSC Cruises experience, is brought to life in the mastery of every detail. At 331 metres long and with the addition of 200 more cabins, the two ships will feature a maximum capacity of nearly 6,300 guests. They will also be able to call at all world cruise ports, thus maximizing guests' choice of itineraries and destinations.
The unique public spaces filled with boutiques, restaurants and tranquil spots for shopping, eating and relaxing as well as socialising have also been further improved. The interior promenade is now an impressive 111 metre-long and the now-95 by 6 metres LED sky screen above it will beam out visual events and vistas round the clock to animate the entire promenade from above to create a unique atmospheric experience.
Another key distinguishing element of the MSC Cruises experience is its commitment to making available to its guests the richest array of entertainment possible. As with the recently announced Cirque du Soleil partnership, which will bring world-class shows exclusively to MSC Cruises in co-designed, purpose-built dining and entertainment venues guests, Meraviglia-Plus ships will feature a unique, cultural experience for guests at sea with the first-of-its-kind classic and contemporary fine art museum. This industry-first feature will now enable guests to discover world culture not only through rich and varied itineraries but also on board by experiencing masterpieces from around the globe in collaboration with the world’s premier cultural centres, classic and modern art museums as well as public and private institutions.
Additionally, Meraviglia and Meraviglia-Plus ships will look to set a new standard in smart ships as the recently announced partnership with Samsung brings next-generation technology with everything from latest displays and mobile solutions to medical equipment, as well as products for enhanced reality experiences.
The two new ships will be worth €1.6 billion, thus bringing MSC Cruises’ investment for the two Meraviglia plus the two Meraviglia-Plus ships to a total of €3 billion.
Company performance in 2015
At a press conference following the ceremony, Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer, said: “In 2015, MSC Cruises came out of another year of unprecedented growth that saw a 10% year-on-year sales increase, with 1.7 million guests having journeyed on one of the Company’s 12 ultra-modern ships. In key markets, including Italy, Germany, Spain and France – growth at rates higher than the market resulted in further market share gains.”
During the course of the latest fiscal year, the Company also further consolidated its leadership in South America and South Africa. Additionally, it continued to expand its global reach beyond its core Mediterranean and Northern Europe offering by being the first global cruise line to make Cuba its homeport. It also announced the deployment of its first ship out of China, as of May 2016, while also strengthening its offer in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman with even more capacity with MSC Musica and MSC Fantasia. In the Caribbean, MSC Divina is now operating year-around from Miami and MSC Seaside will as of December 2017, this in addition to the industry-only two different Caribbean itineraries to include port calls in Havana, with MSC Opera and MSC Armonia, as of December 2016.
“For 2016,” Mr Onorato concluded, “we expect six percent year-over-year additional growth.”