European cruise line MSC Cruises has launched itself into the bragging rights conversation to be the owner of the world’s largest cruise ships, announcing its intention to build as many as four new vessels each capable of catering to up to 5,400 passengers in 2,700 cabins.
In signing a letter of intent with a French cruise ship construction firm, MSC increased its total order book of new ships to 11. The first in this line – MSC Meraviglia – is in the final stages of building and will take to the seas in May next year, and following this latest addition, the total order if fully exercised will run for the next 10 years through to 2026.
Described by MSC as “an advanced new next-generation prototype”, the four enormous ships represent a fleet investment of €4 billion (AU$6 billion), with the ships expected to feature a swathe of the latest technology to entice passengers to enjoy a “record-breaking, futuristically-conceived design that will make the ship a truly unique place to be at sea”.
Families will be the target market for the new MSC vessels. While specific detail on what exactly the new ships will feature, the company said its culture of innovation will make the ship the “richest in amenities and features for all guests, including families; cutting-edge in design [and will] feature the latest and best state-of-the-art smart technology at sea”. The new ships will also be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, positioning them as among the most environmentally friendly available.
Currently, Royal Caribbean hold the top three spots for the world’s largest cruise ships in the form of its trio of ships including Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and the soon-to-debut Harmony of the Seas. Once built, these new MSC vessels will rocket the line right into the mix with ships reflecting virtual cities at sea.
If all four options are exercised, the ships will be delivered in 2022, 2024, 2025 and 2026, with the significant increase in capacity expected to be sent to cater to the company’s North America, European and Asian markets. It is unlikely ships of this size will be seen in Australia due to the enormous facilities required to service them that currently don’t exist here.