MSC adds ships to cement position as Europe’s leading cruise line

Mar 15, 2006
Author: P&S

Fort Lauderdale – MSC Cruises has announced it will further expand its rapidly growing fleet of contemporary European-style cruise ships. The line, headquartered in Naples, Italy, has signed a contract with Chantiers de l’Atlantique confirming an order for construction of yet another Panamax ship, with delivery slated for March 2008, along with confirming the option for an additional ship.

The joint announcement was made yesterday (Tuesday) by Italy-based MSC Cruises (USA) President and CEO Richard E. Sasso and Patrick Boissier, CEO of Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

artists impression of MSC Musica, sister ship to MSC Orchestra and the newbuild mentioned in this article – click image to enlarge

The ship will be the fifth of the line’s confirmed orders. MSC Cruises currently has contracts with Chantiers de l’Atlantique to build two Panamax and two post-Panamax vessels. The latest addition and option are for Panamax vessels in the same class as the 89,600-ton MSC Musica, which is having her inaugural sailing on 1 July.

MSC Orchestra, the second Panamax ship, is scheduled to join the fleet in 2007. The line has also contracted for two post-Panamax newbuilds, MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata..

The addition of this fifth new order will increase the line’s fleet to 12 ships by 2009.

“We have come a long way since 2002, when we had three ships in service. This move further solidifies MSC Cruises’ position as the leading European cruise company and the fastest-growing cruise line,” says Sasso. “We are committed to making investments that confirm MSC Cruises as the dominant force in the European cruise market.”

Newbuilds strengthen MSC Cruises’ position

Like its sister ships MSC Musica and MSC Orchestra, the newbuild will feature cutting-edge technologies and innovative design. The ship will carry 2,500 passengers and have more than 242,000 square feet of public area. In addition, 85 percent of the staterooms will be outside accommodations and 65 percent of the total number of staterooms will have balconies.

MSC Lirica, one of four ships produced so far at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in France for MSC – picture courtesy Click image to enlarge

MSC Cruises has a long-standing relationship with Chantiers de l’Atlantique, which has thus far produced four vessels in the line’s current fleet: MSC Lirica, MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia and MSC Opera.

MSC Cruises currently has a fleet of seven ships – MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Lirica, MSC Opera, MSC Melody, MSC Rhapsody, and MSC Monterey – and offers itineraries in the Mediterranean (year-round), Northern Europe, Transatlantic, Caribbean, South America and South Africa.

MSC Melody and MSC Monterey will be cruising in Southern African waters this coming summer.

MSC Rhapsody, which early in April concludes another successful summer season of cruising in Southern African waters. Later this year MSC Rhapsody will be replaced by two ships providing more than 100 cruises out of Durban and Cape Town – MSC Monterey and MSC Melody. Picture Terry Hutson. Click image to enlarge

Note: Backed by one of the world’s largest container shipping companies, MSC Cruises has emerged as a fast-rising star in the European-style cruise market. The company launched a USD 3 billion expansion program in 2003 with the introduction of the new MSC Lirica in 2003. MSC Cruises added the MSC Armonia (built in 2001) to its fleet in spring of 2004 and the new MSC Opera debuted in June 2004. The line purchased the MSC Sinfonia in July 2004 (the ship began cruising in March 2005). Two 2,600-passenger ships are on order, with MSC Musica slated to debut in spring 2006 and MSC Orchestra in 2007. The line has also contracted for two post-Panamax ships; the MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata.

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