(9:15 a.m. EST) — MSC Cruises has announced today (Feb 1) it will build two new mega ships which will be able to carry 6,300 passengers at full capacity.
The two new ships — which will be known as “Meraviglia Plus” class — will be 16 meters longer and have 200 additional cabins compared to the Meraviglia ships, with a total of 2,444 cabins.
The Meraviglia Plus ships will be due for delivery respectively in November 2019 and April 2020.
It is not confirmed where the two new ships will be based, but CEO Gianni Onorato said despite their vast capacity, they could fit into most worldwide ports.
Speaking to Cruise Critic at a traditional coin ceremony at the STX shipyard in St Nazaire, France, where the ships are being built, Onorato said: “The beauty of these ships is that despite their size, they can fit into any port around the world.
“They are actually shorter than MSC Divina [by two meters], but wider. We call them ‘a ship for all seasons’ and they could be in northern Europe, South America, the Caribbean or the Mediterranean — or Asia, China specifically.”
MSC has also announced a number of new features on the two new ships, including the first fine art museum at sea, which will feature original artworks. Onorato could not confirm which museum the line would be partnering with, just that it was likely to be one from France or Italy.
Onorato said the additional space would also allow for an even bigger indoor promenade of 111 meters long, and a vast LED screen, now 95 meters by six meters. The extra space will also allow for an extra two restaurants.
MSC has already confirmed partnership with both Cirque du Soleil, which will perform a show onboard, and Samsung, which will provide the technology.
Onorato said the line planned to return a ship to the U.K., after losing MSC Opera in 2014, but could not confirm when: “We will definitely base a ship in the U.K. and we will start looking at that possibility later this year.”
He added: “It’s important to have a ship out of the U.K., but it is also important to fill our ships with U.K. passengers.”
The 2,100-passenger MSC Opera was redeployed to Cuba in December last year, and is by far the biggest cruise ship to ever homeport there. It offers seven-day round-trip itineraries from Havana with a passenger mix mainly consisting of Europeans and Canadians, but Onorato said he was keeping an eye on U.S.-Cuba relations in the hope that U.S. citizens would soon be able to travel freely to the island.
MSC Cruises is the only mainstream cruise line based in Cuba, and will send a second sister ship MSC Armonia to the island next year.
The line has added its Bahamian Ocean Cay Marine Nature Reserve to its Cuba itineraries for next year.
Onorato said he had been encouraged by the response from the U.S. market this year, with MSC Divina being based in Miami year-round.
“Our activity in North America with a partnership with Miami Cruise Terminal and basing a new-build [MSC Seaside] there, shows our commitment to the U.S. market.
“We will never be a major player in North America, but it’s a big market and people are always looking for something new, so we would be happy to be a major niche player.”
He confirmed that Divina would be offering 10- and 12-day Caribbean itineraries in addition to its seven-day offering.