MSC Cruises has moved to increase its order of megaships from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to two ships, with an option for third. At a cost of AUD $3.2 billion, this investment signifies a confidence that the cruise holiday industry will only continue to strengthen.
The Italian-Swiss shipping company currently operates 12 cruise liners, running numerous different sea routes simultaneously. The two new ships, currently nicknamed Project Seaside I and Project Seaside II, from Fincantieri are larger in terms of gross tonnage than any of the company's current liners.
Alongside these recent purchases, MSC Cruises also has two even larger ships in production by STX Europe at the moment.
MSC Cruises chief executive officer Gianni Ornato said that the orders fitted into MSC's fleet development plan: "Today, MSC Cruises adds the last piece to its new industrial plan that will allow us to double the capacity of our fleet by 2022," he enthused. "With the arrival of the new ships we will reach a capacity of about 80,000 passengers a day."
Cruise1st reports that Project Seaside I and II are scheduled to make their maiden voyages in November 2017 and May 2018 respectively. Like all MSC liners, the two megaships will sail under the Panama flag.
Both of the ships will utilise cutting edge design, architecture and technology, affording the ship unusually large amounts of deck space for the passengers to enjoy. Additionally, a unique sea-level promenade will be incorporated, utilising cantilever technology and featuring a large theatre, terraced balcony and panoramic views from an external passenger lift to the upper deck.
UK and Ireland Managing Director, Giles Hawke, explained: "The idea is to bring passengers closer to sea level so they feel as if they are at the beach."
Other technologically advanced features include glass deflectors and tunnel technology that will give diners indoors the experience of dining al fresco. This has been implemented to take advantage of the warm weather routes that are being targeted by MSC for the two new liners.
Weighing in at 154,000 tonnes each, the 323 metre-long ships will be able to cater for up to 5,300 passengers in 2,070 cabins. The two ships represent a giant leap forward for MSC Cruises in terms of project size and technological ambition.
MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfranscesco Vago said, "From the moment we started talking with Fincantieri, we had in mind to design and build two completely new ships, revolutionary in their structure, unlike anything that exists on the market today."
"Seaside is a futuristic prototype because of its structure, shape and versatility. We are getting ready for the new and compelling challenge that the construction of these ships represents. It will be a real revolution in the world's cruise market, an excellent product for its unique and innovative architectural features and cutting-edge technology."