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MSC Cruises and STX France confirm order for LNG-powered World Class cruise ships

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

On May 31 at the MSC Meraviglia Flag Ceremony, where MSC Cruises took delivery of the latest next-generation cruise ship built by STX France, the two companies signed a new memorandum of understanding firming up the order of two 200,000 gross ton, LNG-powered mega cruise ships, with options for two additional vessels. The four ships will become MSC Cruises’ World Class. The signing took place in the presence of Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy.

In connection with the signing, MSC Cruises and STX France today also unveiled several key features of the World Class. Among other innovations, they will be equipped with a completely new generation of LNG-powered engines as well as a new generation waste water treatment system.

MSC Cruises’ World Class cruise ships will feature 2,760 staterooms and a maximum occupancy of 6,850 guests, the highest passenger capacity in the global cruise fleet. The vessels, which will be delivered in 2022 and 2024 – the options are for 2025 and 2026 – will have a length of 1,083 ft. and 154 ft. of beam.

Speaking at the MSC Meraviglia Flag Ceremony, Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, said: “Today, as we unveil MSC Meraviglia, a new vessel that marks the start of the next phase of our growth, we are delighted to confirm another key component of our ten-year investment plan: the World Class. These new vessels will further expand our partnership with STX France all the way to 2026, with up to seven additional innovative ships to be built during this period.”

STX France's CEO Laurent Castaing commented: “Once again, MSC Cruises has chosen to put their trust in our capacity to support their growth and expansion as well as in our ability to conceive, develop and build the world’s most modern and technologically-advanced cruise ships. By adding the new World Class to the four previous ship classes that we have delivered over the past 15 years, the number of vessels in their fleet built by STX France in Saint-Nazaire is set to reach 20. Our exceptional industrial partnership continues to benefit an entire region.”

The World Class’ futuristic “Y” shape structure will enable panoramic sea views and increase the proportion of balcony cabins. The ships’ G bow (vertically positioned at a 90 degree angle) has been designed to improve stability, hydrodynamics as well as to enhance guest comfort. Other guest-centric innovations include family-friendly villages, a panoramic aft, and a glass pool lounge.

The announcement of the World Class was made as MSC Cruises officially took delivery of MSC Meraviglia. During the ship’s flag ceremony, which pays tribute to centuries-old maritime tradition, the Company’s newest flagship received her official flag and blessings for good fortune. MSC Meraviglia is due to set sail towards the Port of Le Havre for her christening ceremony on June 3.

MSC Cruises takes delivery the MSC Meraviglia

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä

Today at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, MSC Cruises officially took delivery of MSC Meraviglia. During the ship’s flag ceremony, which pays tribute to centuries-old maritime tradition, the Company’s newest flagship received her official flag and blessings for good fortune. The Flag Ceremony was attended by Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic and other high-level dignitaries from the French government.

At 171,598 gross tons and with guest capacity of 5,714 (4,488 at double occupancy), MSC Meraviglia is both the biggest ship to ever be built by a European ship owner — MSC Cruises — and the biggest to come into service in 2017. She is also one of the six new ships due to come into service between 2017 and 2020 under the Company’s industry-unprecedented investment plan. Four of these six vessels will be built by STX France, further reinforcing a long-standing partnership that has already produced all 13 vessels in MSC Cruises’ fleet, allowing the Company to grow by 800% from 2003 to 2013.

MSC Cruises — the Swiss-based world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa — estimates that its total investment at STX France from 2003 to 2020 will amount to over 7 billion euros (≈$7.8 billion USD), effectively making the Company the country’s number one foreign private investor (when it comes to export contracts.) Considering that the building of MSC Meraviglia required 1,700 workers per month (over 3,000 per month during peak periods) and nine million man hours, and that the construction work feeds into a network of more than 400 suppliers and subcontractors, the economic effects of this investment are not only widely felt across the country’s geography but also multiplied several times over.

Following her christening ceremony, which will take place in Le Havre on June 3, MSC Meraviglia will start her inaugural season sailing the Western Mediterranean.

“MSC Meraviglia’s coming into service marks a key milestone in the history and future of our Company,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises. “She represents the first realization of our long-term vision for further significant growth, which, in its first phase, culminated with MSC Cruises becoming two years ago the number one cruise brand across all of Europe, while on its way to further global growth.”

“Above all, we must celebrate the work of everyone: from all the workers of our partner STX France to MSC Cruises’ New Builds Team, each and every supplier and sub-supplier who has contributed to turning our vision into reality as well as everyone at MSC who has worked ashore and on board on this amazing project. A galvanized team of up to 3,000 workers a month and over 400 suppliers, built over the past three years the largest and most technologically advanced cruise ship ever constructed by a European ship owner. This is worth celebrating!” added Vago.

“Delivering a ship is always a time of great emotion for the shipyard: it is the culmination of three years of intense work for our employees and those of our partners, who have spared no effort to deliver on the exact date and in the quality conditions desired by our client MSC Cruises, this first ship of the Meraviglia class,” said Laurent Castaing, CEO of STX France. “Benefiting from our advances in R&D from the "Ship of the Future" program supported by ADEME, this prototype is a great achievement that we can all be proud of and which allows us to look confidently at the next three ships.”

During today’s flag ceremony, the shipyard’s pennant and the French flag were lowered, accompanied by the French national anthem, before Laurent Castaing, CEO of STX France, formally handed the ship over to MSC Cruises’ owner Gianluigi Aponte. Mr. Aponte then gave command of MSC Meraviglia to Master Raffaele Pontecorvo before the ship’s flag and MSC Cruises’ pennant were raised.

The honor of cutting the ribbon fell to the ceremony’s godmother, Ms. Zoe Africa Vago, daughter of MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman and Alexa Aponte-Vago, MSC Group’s CFO. After the traditional breaking of the bottle of champagne, three blasts from the ship’s siren signalled the end of the ceremony.

MSC Meraviglia, the 13th cruise ship to join MSC Cruises’ fleet since its inception in 2003, is 1,034 feet long, 141 feet wide and 214 feet high, with 171,598 GRTs. She is able to travel up to 22.7 knots and has been designed to operate in all seasons and to be able to call in most of the world’s international cruise ports, offering the widest and most exciting range of marine as well as onboard features of any MSC Cruises ship to-date.

After the closing of the flag ceremony, MSC Meraviglia is due to set sail towards the Port of Le Havre for her christening ceremony on June 3. She will then begin her first sailing along the Atlantic coast, calling at Vigo (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), all the way to the Mediterranean, calling in Barcelona (Spain), Marseille (France) and eventually Genoa (Italy). She will commence the first regular 7-night itinerary on June 11, sailing from Genoa on to Naples (Italy), Messina (Italy), Valletta (Malta), Barcelona, Marseille and back to Genoa on June 18.

Fincantieri and CSSC to build cruise ship industrial park in Shanghai

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Fincantieri signed a letter of intent (LOI) with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), China’s largest shipbuilding conglomerate, and with Shanghai City’s district of Baoshan, aimed at creating a cruise ship industrial park.

The three parties, whenever it is technically and economically feasible, will engage for the creation of a hub, mainly dedicated to cruise activities, as well as shipbuilding and maritime, within the development of these segments, set out by China. The enhancement and the specialization of the entire Baoshan region is, indeed, among the purposes of this impressive government programme.

The district is China’s largest commercial and cruise port, today representing the most developed region of the country in the cruise sector. It can benefit from preferential economic policies of “Shanghai Free Trade Zone” and “China Cruise Tourism Development Experimental Zone”, which will accelerate the district’s transformation from a “cruise port” into a “cruise city”.

In detail, the district will provide financing, tax commercial and administrative benefits, land for necessary development and other resources, in the light of a possible establishment of foreign companies, introduced by the partners. Fincantieri and CSSC will, in fact, promote the park in their supply chain network, and in the industry as a whole, as a foundation for the companies which want to access to the opportunities of this project. In this way Fincantieri could become a lever for the establishment in China of its Italian supply chain or of other Italian SMBs, which would greatly benefit from this operation. In this scenario, Fincantieri will also have an active role in the management of the activities of the LOI, while CSSC will be in charge of control and supervision.

 

Ulstein Verft and undisclosed owner in expedition ship deal

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Ulstein Verft, the privately owned Norwegian shipbuilder, said it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with an undisclosed owner for the construction of one or more expedition cruise vessels of the design type ULSTEIN CX104.

“The past few years we have worked strategically to target the exploration cruise market. This LOI proves that we are now confirming our position in this market. We are pleased to have been chosen as partner in this exciting project and we now look forward to turning this project into reality,” Gunvor Ulstein, CEO at Ulstein Group, said in a statement.

The vessels will be designed by Ulstein Design & Solutions to incorporate the distinctive X-BOW design, and will be approx. 120 metres long and 20 metres wide. There has been great focus on creating a safe and comfortable platform as well as implementing environmental friendly and sustainable solutions.

SunStone Ships Inc. in Florida signed an agreement with the China Merchants group to build four, with an option of six further, 104 metre expedition shops designed by Ulstein

In addition, the design has emphasized on giving passengers the best possible viewing experiences while sailing through some of the most spectacular areas of our planet.

“The vessels will surpass the newest regulatory demands for taking passengers into Arctic and Antarctic waters, and are planned for delivery in 2019 and 2020,” the company said. The signing of the LOI represents a significant step to realise these future expedition vessels to the market.

"The cooperation and team work have been very good and we are looking forward to realising this project together with all parts involved. Our 100 years of tradition and experience in building and innovate ships will benefit our customer”, says managing director Kristian Sætre in Ulstein Verft.

 

Peace Boat signs LOI to build Ecoship at Arctech in Finland

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen

Peace Boat, the Japanese cruise organisation, has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with the Finnish shipbuilding company Arctech Helsinki Shipyard Inc., to construct the Ecoship, the world’s greenest cruise ship.

“Peace Boat director and founder Yoshioka Tatsuya, Esko Mustamaki, CEO from Arctech and Jon Rysst, Regional Manager North Europe, from Classification Society DNV GL, announced the agreement during Nor-Shipping, the biggest maritime trade fair in Scandinavia,” the Japanese company said in a statement.Yoshioka said: "We have agreed with Arctech to build the Ecoship, the most innovative and ecologically friendly cruise vessel ever. We believe this ship will be a game changer for the shipping industry and will contribute to the protection of the environment. It will be a flagship for climate change. We are very happy to work together with a Finnish shipyard, and look forward to exploring clean and sustainable technologies with partners throughout this region, which is known for its environmental leadership”.

Esko Mustamaki, from Arctech Helsinki Shipyard, added: “We are very excited to work with Peace Boat in the construction of this very special vessel. Arctech has a long experience in design and construction of special products. Ecoship will combine Arctech’s know-how in technically advanced and environmentally friendly vessels with the well-established expertise of the Finnish shipbuilding network in designing and building of high-class cruise vessels and other special products. Arctech is a forerunner in developing and applying technological innovations, including LNG propulsion."

Before the event, the CEO DNV GL – Maritime, Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, said: “It’s really nice to see this innovative and exciting project proceed, this is a very positive development for Peace Boat. For us at DNV GL, it is always wonderful when such impressive projects using environmentally friendly technology take one step further towards being realized and we will continue to support this project”. 

A final contract for the 2,000-passenger and 750-cabin 60,000 gross ton vessel is expected to be signed shortly. The new ship is scheduled for delivery in spring 2020.

Ecoship, with its nature-inspired architectural design by Spanish company Oliver Design, will be the platform for Peace Boat’s round-the-world cruise carrying 6,000 people per year; host exhibitions on green technology in up to 100 ports per year; and serve as a floating sustainability laboratory contributing to research on the ocean, climate and green marine technology. The ship also will create awareness and encourage active engagement with the challenges embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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