MSC Cruises is to enter the luxury cruise sector after placing an order for four “groundbreaking” 500-cabin ships.
The first of the line’s new generation of “ultra-luxury” vessels will come into service in spring 2023, with the remaining three deployed one per year until 2026.
MSC signed a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri on Thursday (October 18) for the construction of the ships in a deal worth in excess of €2 billion.
According to the line, the vessels, which will have a gross tonnage of approximately 64,000 GRT, will feature “the best and latest environmental technology and other cutting-edge maritime solutions at sea”.
The ships will also showcase "highly-innovative design” and introduce "groundbreaking options for guest comfort and relaxation”, MSC said in a statement.
Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, said MSC’s move into the luxury cruise market came following customer demand and was a “natural evolution” for its “ship-within-a-ship” concept, the MSC Yacht Club.
“These ships will be able to offer unique itineraries, thanks to their size, and the guest services will be taken to another level, including our personalised MSC Yacht Club butler service, available 24/7,” said Vago.
“I am especially pleased to be able to further extend our partnership with Fincantieri through this new order. The award-winning Seaside and Seaside-Evo class have already been recognised as ground-breaking and innovative designs.
“We are now introducing another new class, which will establish a new standard of ultra-luxury at sea with ships that will showcase the quality and highest standards that are associated with Made in Italy.”
Antonio Paradiso, managing director, MSC Cruises UK & Ireland said the upcoming vessels would "come as close as it comes to a private yacht experience".
“Entering into the ultra-luxury segment, is yet another exciting development in our offering. In addition to our Yacht Club experience, which is very popular among our UK and Irish guests, from 2023 onwards guests will enjoy an even wider choice of five-star cruise experiences in the highest segment of the market," he said.
"Accessible luxury is something that from our research we know there is significant demand for from the UK market, and our new offering will allow guests to visit some of the most beautiful destinations in the world whilst holidaying in luxury."
Giuseppe Bono, chief executive of Fincantieri, added: “It is with pride that two great brands – an Italian one and one with strong Italian DNA, well-known all over the world, today announce an important construction programme.
“We are extremely satisfied that to launch a new class of ships in the luxury segment, MSC Cruises has acknowledged that our project will allow to create a new generation of cutting edge units from both a technological point of view, safety and with particular attention paid to passenger comfort.
“With this project Fincantieri can count on 53 cruise ships in its order book, confirming to be [the] absolute market leader in all the cruise shipbuilding segments”.