MSC Cruises and STX France signed an order for the construction of a fifth Meraviglia-class ship, bringing its backlog of ships on order and under construction to nine.

Due to be delivered in 2023, the 4,816-passenger ship will be equipped with a new generation of dual‐fuel engines designed to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The cost of the unnamed ship is $1.06 billion, bringing the value of MSC ships on order to $10.5 billion.

MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato said that the opportunity to gain a spot in a shipyard to build new vessels has become very competitive.

"Today there are only three top-qualified yards able to build cruise ships. We're not the only ones building ships. The yards are quite busy. We try to take our position there in order to ensure the growth of the company," Onorato said.

The new ship order was announced at the STX France shipyard in Saint-Nazaire in the presence of Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister of the Economy and Finance.

For the first time in Saint‐Nazaire's history, three cruise ships belonging to a single cruise brand are under simultaneous construction at the yard. In a ceremony on Thursday, MSC and STX officials cut steel for the 4th Meraviglia class vessel, which will be named MSC Virtuosa; then held a coin welding ceremony on the keel of the MSC Grandiosa and then floated out the MSC Bellissima.

Remarkably, MSC is not the brand with the most ships on order. Viking Ocean has 14 vessels on order or under construction, including the Viking Orion due in July.

But the Viking ships, each built for 928 passengers, collectively cost $5.6 billion, about half the value of MSC's nine much larger vessels.

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