Aficionados of European-based cruise lines finally get some good news today as MSC Italian Cruises, which last year launched its first-ever newbuild (MSC Lirica), has placed an order for two more new ships -- and an option on a third. The vessels will be built at France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique (birthplace of Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Celebrity’s Millennium class).
No tonnage figure was given for the as-yet unnamed vessels but they will carry 3,000 passengers. Which means, compared to MSC Lirica (a 59,058-ton, 1,560-passenger vessel), they’ll be considerably larger. The company's 21st century growth spurt didn't pause with MSC Lirica, by the way; MSC Opera, a sister ship, will debut in April 2004. Both were built at Chantiers de l'Atlantique.
Expect a June 2006 delivery for the first new ship, and a spring 2007 debut for the second.
The new orders represent a significant commitment to a fleet upgrade for MSC. The Switzerland-based cruise line -- founded in just 1987 (making it, still, a relative newcomer) -- originally developed its fleet by acquiring classic vessels.