MSC Cruises is expanding its MSC Yacht Club luxury ship-within-a-ship concept into an entirely new class of vessel. The line has just announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement with shipbuilder Fincantieri for an order of four new luxury cruise ships, representing a total value of over 2 billion euros.
In a written statement MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said that the new ships would build on the MSC Yacht Club concept, the cruise line's luxury ship-within-a-ship area.
The new ships, the first of which is scheduled to be delivered in spring 2023, will be approximately 64,000 gross tons with 500 staterooms. The remaining three ships will come into service one per year of the next three years.
Because of their size, the new ships will be able to offer unique itineraries, said Vago. They will also incorporate a number of environmentally friendly features, as well as new guest amenities. Guests onboard will also enjoy 24-7 butler service, as in the MSC Yacht Club.
In addition to these new luxury ships, MSC Cruises is also launching ships in two other new classes, the Seaside and the Seaside Evo class. Next March will see the launch of the 4,415-guest MSC Bellissima, followed by the 4,821-passenger MSC Grandiosa, which will make its debut as the line’s new flagship in November of that year.
The move is the latest major deal in the luxury cruise space. This summer Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced the purchase of a majority stake in Silversea Cruises, giving the company a presence in the luxury and luxury expedition spaces. That purchase was swiftly followed by a big purchase order for two Silversea ships in a new “Evolution” class, as well as a new Galapagos-bound expedition vessel. Royal Caribbean’s competitors, Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line, own the luxury Seabourn, Cunard and Regent Seven Seas Cruises cruise brands. Even hotel company Marriott International is launching its own luxury cruise brand, the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. MSC Cruises is privately owned.
While cruise lines work to expand luxury capacity, demand in the market has also continued to grow. Earlier this week, AAA Travel released an analysis of the past 12 months of its booking data that showed a spike in demand for both luxury suites on large cruise ships and sailing on small, luxury cruise lines – by double-digit percentages, in some cases.
This story originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.