MSC Cruises on Thursday announced that it has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with STX France for the construction of two new cruise ships with an option for two more.
The two ships will join MSC Cruises as the largest vessels in the company’s fleet, currently consisting of 12 ships all built in the Saint-Nazaire yards.
The first two cruise ships are due for delivery respectively in 2017 and 2019.
The vessels will be 1033 feet long and 141 feet wide, with a gross tonnage of about 167,600 tons, boasting 2,250 cabins for guests, nearly 820 crew cabins, and accommodating 5,700 passengers and 1,536 crew members.
The new prototype is the result of a long development process, leading to the creation of a new generation of ships that are said to be cleaner, more efficient and more technological. MSC says the ships will be water emission free, while its hull and propulsion system will be optimized for better energy efficiency. The installation of scrubbers will allow for fumes to be neutralized and CO2 emissions to be in accordance with the latest evolutions of international maritime regulations.
For STX France and its subcontractors, the contract signed is worth 16 million working hours, including 9 million for the prototype and 7 million for the second unit. Building is due to start in spring 2015. The contract will be binding when the financial package is secured.
“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’ Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago. “The launch of this prototype and the building of these two new ships confirm our commitment to further growth and to further development. MSC Cruises will expand its capacity by 31%; we will incredibly enrich our offer on board and we will broaden our horizons to ensure we meet the growing global demand in every region. Once again our longstanding partnership with the STX yard has proved key for these plans.”
“We are really proud of building this new generation of ships for MSC Cruises, a long-time appreciated partner,” said Laurent Castaing, STX France General Manager. “We invested a lot of R&D and design efforts to make sure that MSC Cruises’ new flagship would truly be unmatched. The latest commercial negotiation was particularly challenging in the light of today’s global competitive landscape in the shipbuilding industry. I would like to point out that the competitiveness agreement signed with our trade unions has been decisive to reach this LOI signature.”
Among the new features of the ships will be specially designed cabins for families and an extended MSC Yacht Club, the entirely self-contained private club on the prestigious foredecks that will now be completed with a vast solarium, a private lounge and restaurant and duplex suites.