MSC Cruises has signed a letter of intent with STX France for the construction of up to four LNG-powered ships.
The four ships, the first of which will be delivered in 2022, will be over 200,000 GRT and will be known as the “World Class”.
The announcement was made at the Élysée Palace in the presence of French president François Hollande, as well as MSC Group founder, Gianluigi Aponte, and STX France chief executive Laurent Castaing.
MSC Cruises is the first global cruise line brand to develop an investment plan of this length and magnitude, spanning a horizon of over ten years (from 2014 through to 2026) and for a total of up to eleven next-generation ships.
The new orders will reflect an additional nearly €4 billion investment, bringing the total value of the company’s ten-plus year investment plan to nearly €9 billion.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises executive chairman, declared: “Today’s announcement is further proof of our view that this industry presents significant opportunities for additional growth going forward for both our brand and product.
“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 type of ship.
“The new MSC Cruise World Class prototype will feature - amongst other highly innovative elements - a futuristic design that will maximise the open space available to our guests.”
Vago continued: “Our long-standing focus on innovation will make the new ships unlike anything that currently exists in the cruise industry.
“They will be the richest yet in terms of amenities and features for guests and families; have a cutting edge design; feature the latest and the best state-of-the-art smart technology and use the most advanced environmentally-friendly technology available with LNG-propelled engines. But most importantly it will be a ship for all seasons and all regions.”
The four ships provided under the LOI – two firm orders and two further options – will be delivered in 2022, 2024, 2025 and in 2026.
They will feature a GRT in excess of 200,000 tonnes, more than 2,700 cabins and approx. 5,400 lower berths occupancy capacity.
Castaing added: “We have just signed an exceptional agreement with MSC Cruises that 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.
“We have already designed four different classes for MSC Cruises– Opera, Musica, Fantasia and Meraviglia – each with four ships, and now we are working together on this new generation of “World Class” ships.
“By 2026, a total of 20 ships will have been designed and built by STX France in Saint-Nazaire for MSC Cruises.”
Castaing added: “MSC Cruises has been expanding its global footprint and fleet of state-of-the-art ships that combine cutting-edge technology, comfort and unrivalled entertainment with the lowest impact on the environment.
“In order to achieve this next stage of growth, MSC Cruises have selected STX France for our engineering and production capacities as part of a long-term partnership – of course this decision makes me very happy!”
MSC Cruises’ investment plan includes orders with STX France for two Meraviglia and two further Meraviglia-Plus Class ships as well as orders with Fincantieri in Italy for up to three next-generation Seaside Class ships.
Additionally, the plan encompassed the €200 million Renaissance Programme of four of 12 of the company’s fleet, already the most modern at sea, which was also carried out by Fincantieri.