As was widely expected, MSC Cruises has just announced a 2.1 billion euro order with the Italian Fincantieri shipyard for a pair of new ships, with an option for a third. The first of the new class- code named Project Seaside- is scheduled for delivery in November 2017, and the second in May, 2018.
The dimensions are quite staggering; with a length of 323 metres, the two ships will be 70 metres high, and have an extraordinarily wide draft of 41 metres each. At some 154,000 tons, these two ships will be the largest ever to be built in an Italian yard. Artist’s illustrations of the twin sisters reveal a silhouette that is substantially influenced by both the Oasis class juggernauts of Royal Caribbean, as well as the one off Norwegian Epic.
The two ships will be capable of accommodating 5,300 passengers across a total of 2,070 cabins, as well as a crew of some 1,413.
The extra wide beam will facilitate an extraordinary amount of interior public spaces, estimated at around 43,500 square metres. It is also claimed that the two ships will be able to dock in any port around the world, an incredible statement in light of their vast dimensions.
As far as general arrangements go, the ships will offer what is described as a ‘sea level promenade’ that will feature a string of outdoor bars, shops and restaurants. The line here has clearly been taking note of the phenomenal success of similar outdoor areas on the last two Norwegian new builds, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, as well as- to a lesser -extent- the three ships of the popular Carnival Dream series.
As things stand, MSC Cruises is entering a period of growth and enhancement that would make even Royal Caribbean look to its laurels. In addition to the new ships announced today, the line also has committed to a pair of 150,000 ton giant cruise ships from the STX shipyard in France.
In addition to that, Fincantieri will also begin a programme of chopping and stretching each of the four smallest ships in the MSC fleet- Lirica, Armonia, Sinfonia and Opera, over the coming winter through to spring, 2015. Each of the four extended, enhanced vessels will come in at around 65,000 tons. While big, this is still a long way smaller than the quartet of new behemoths that are in the pipeline.
The new builds will take MSC Cruises from a twelve ship fleet to sixteen within a timescale of only four years from now. By any standards you care to judge these new vessels, it is still a pretty staggering achievement for any line.
As always, stay tuned.
Update: MSC cruises has just announced that one of their massive, 133,000 ton Fantasia class ships will be coming to sail from the UK in eother 2016 or 2017.