MSC to place two-ship order

By Tom Stieghorst
MSC Cruises ship renderingSTX France has signed a letter of intent to build two 167,000-gross ton ships for MSC Cruises that would be delivered in 2017 and 2019, plus options for two more.

The long-rumored order would expand MSC’s fleet from 12 to 16 if all four ships are built.

MSC Cruises USA's president, Rick Sasso, said at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference earlier this month that MSC was ready to increase its North American presence from a single year-round ship if an order was made.

A statement from the two companies said the contract will be binding “when the financial package is secured.”

The companies did not give a value for the order, but said the two ships would provide 16 million working hours for STX France and its subcontractors. STX France genial manager Laurent Castaing said a competitiveness agreement signed with trade unions was “decisive” in reaching the letter of intent to build the ships.

Each new ship will have 2,250 passenger cabins for a double-occupancy capacity of 4,500, but MSC put the ship’s capacity at 5,700 passengers. The ships "will be able to call in most of the ports and destinations on earth, without compromise," MSC said,

MSC President Gianni Oronato said the ships will boast "new panoramic spaces, a bigger theater and a spectacular amusement park connected to an outdoor aqua park as well as a two-deck inside promenade."

The MSC ships will have specially designed cabins for families and an extended Yacht Club luxury area on each vessel.

Castaing said negotiations for the ships were particularly challenging “in light of today’s global competitive landscape in the shipbuilding industry.”

The main creditor for the troubled Korean company that owns STX Europe said recently it would like to divest the European asset by June.
 
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