MSC Cruises celebrated the steel cutting of the first of two new designs to debut in the coming years. Taking place at STX France yards in St Nazaire, lasers cut the first plate of steel that will compose the ships bottom hull.

The new vessel will be called MSC Meraviglia.

MSC also took the opportunity to announce more details about the vessel:

  • 4,500 guests based on double occupancy
  • 167,600 gross tons
  • To be delivered in May 2017
  • Open for bookings from June 2015
  • Will sail the western Mediterranean, with homeports in Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.
  • ‘Cluster cabins’ specifically for families
  • Extended and enhanced MSC Yacht Club
    • Enhancements include duplex suites, a vast solarium and a private lounge and restaurant.
  • A large theatre
  • A large amusement park accompanied by an outdoor aqua park
  • A three-deck interior promenade
    • with a 5,167 square foot LED screen
  • Will be an NFC enabled ship so guests can do things like make onboard payments, access their staterooms or geo-locate children

Here’s the full press release:
MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise company, marked a key milestone in its $5.4 billion growth plan today as the first steel for its new Vista generation of megaships was cut at STX France, during a ceremony in Saint-Nazaire.

At the steel-cutting ceremony, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago told assembled press and dignitaries that the cutting-edge 4,500 guest (double occupancy), 167,600-GRT ship — due to be delivered in May 2017 and open for bookings from June 2015 — will be named MSC Meraviglia. She will spend her first summer sailing the western Mediterranean, and will be the first to have three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona.

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises Executive Chairman:

“MSC Meraviglia will be the biggest and most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line. We chose a name that denotes the sense of awe and wonderment felt when you experience the ship’s stunning features, which only an MSC cruise, with its unique Mediterranean-style, can deliver. MSC Meraviglia brings together the industry knowhow of MSC Cruises, a young, bold company built upon 300 years of seafaring tradition and the expertise of one of the most advanced shipyards in the world. Today, building started on a true maritime marvel.”

STX France General Manager Laurent Castaing added:

“Since March 2014, more than 400 people from our various teams have been working tirelessly to define the special features of a ship that, I am certain will set the standard for its generation. This extraordinary project is testament to MSC Cruises’ visionary approach, and we are proud to collaborate with them through our capacity for innovation and know-how.”

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer said:

“This steel-cutting event marks a decisive milestone in the company’s development plan, one that will see MSC Cruises double its capacity by 2022 through up to seven new ships and a $5.4 billion investment plan.”

He added: “MSC Meraviglia will be one of the greenest and safest ships in the industry, as well as one of the most technologically advanced. We are thrilled that in just a few weeks guests can start booking this truly remarkable ship, which will bring cruise travellers to the most exciting destinations around the world in outstanding comfort and style.”