MSC Cruises is betting big on the cruise industry’s future with a $4.6 billion investment for up to four new ships to be delivered by 2026.
The Geneva-based line announced Wednesday it has signed a letter of intent with shipyard STX France in Saint-Nazaire for two new 5,400-passenger ships and the option of building two more vessels that will start sailing between 2022 and 2026. MSC has a U.S. office in Fort Lauderdale.
The investment builds on the cruise line’s plan to add a total of 11 new ships over the next decade, nearly doubling MSC’s current fleet of 12. The cost for nearly a dozen vessels? $10.2 billion.
The first new ship in the line’s investment program, the MSC Meraviglia, will set sail in June 2017 from the Mediterranean, followed by the deployment of the MSC Seaside for Caribbean itineraries from Miami starting in December next year.
“Today’s announcement is further proof, if needed, of our view that this industry presents significant opportunities for additional growth going forward for both our brand and product, as well as of our firm commitment to be best-positioned to capture them to the fullest,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises executive chairman, in a statement.
$10.2 billion MSC Cruises’ investment to build 11 new ships setting sail between 2017 and 2026
The new massive vessels, MSC said, will be different from anything in the cruise industry.
Dubbed the “World Class” prototype and class of ships, the new design will be “futuristically conceived” and maximize open air space for guests, Vago said.
“It will be yet the richest in amenities and features for guests, for both families and their children, as well as adults; cutting-edge in design all-around; featuring the latest and the best state-of-the-art smart technology at sea; using the most advanced, environmentally-friendly technology available, all the way through the LNG-propelled (liquefied natural gas) engines,” Vago said. “Moreover, it will be a ship for all seasons and for all regions.”
Our long-standing focus on innovation will make the new prototype quite unlike anything currently existing in the cruise industry.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises executive chairman
MSC already has a strong presence in Europe but has been increasing its footprint in North America and the Caribbean in the last few years.
The line offered cruises from Havana, Cuba, for European guests beginning in late 2015, before industry leader Carnival Corp. gained approval last month to sail to the island from Miami with U.S. citizens. Starting in December 2017, MSC will also sail to its own private island in the Bahamas, 20 miles south of Bimini, called Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
As part of its investment plan, the cruise line has ordered two 4,500-passenger ships for its Meraviglia class and two 4,888-passenger ships for its Meraviglia-Plus class from STX France. The line is also building three 4,140-passenger Seaside-class ships at Fincantieri shipyard in Italy and spending $227 million to renovate four vessels.