MSC Cruises Signs Deal For New Ships

After recent big hints, MSC Cruises has placed a big order for — you guessed it — big ships.

The Italian-style–cruising line’s letter of intent with the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire is for two ships to debut in 2017 and 2019. Each will carry as many as 5,700 passengers in 2,250 cabins, the line said. The contract includes an option for two additional ships.

The 167,600-ton vessels will be the largest cruise ships ever built by a European cruise operator, according to MSC. On the list of world’s largest cruise ships, MSC’s new ships will come in just slightly smaller than Royal Caribbean International’s 167,800-ton Quantum-class ships (with Royal Caribbean’s 225,000-ton Oasis-class ships the largest in the world).

“Growth and development have always been the characteristics that have defined MSC since the very beginning of our journey into the world of cruising,” said MSC Cruises’ Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago of the new-ship contract. “The launch of this prototype and the building of these two new ships confirm our commitment to further growth and to further development.”

MSC currently operates a dozen ships including MSC Divina, which sails year-round out of Miami. Vago said the new ships expand MSC Cruises’ capacity by 31 percent.

Look for lots of whiz-bang features on the new flagships. MSC officials said the ships will have new panoramic spaces, a bigger theater, an amusement park connected to an aqua park, and a two-deck indoor promenade.

New cabins will be specifically designed for families and an expanded MSC Yacht Club, reserved for top-end guests, will see the addition of a huge solarium and duplex suites.

The new ships will also be “greener,” with technological and environmental advances, the line said.

Hear more about the new ship order from Ken Muskat, MSC Cruises’ SVP of Sales and Marketing, on today’s Cruise Radio broadcast, which also features an interview with Porthole Cruise Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Bill Panoff.