This is big news for a cruise line that, just four years ago, had only three ships in service. With seven ships sailing currently, this fifth new order will bring the fleet total to 12 by 2009. MSC's CEO Richard Sasso tells us that this commitment to shipbuilding makes MSC the "fastest growing cruise line in the world." Sasso also says that MSC intends to stay right on the heels of Carnival Corp.'s Italy-based Costa Cruises, which many equate as the very European MSC's closest competitor.
The as-yet-unnamed ship will be a sister to the soon-to-launch MSC Musica (artist's rendering pictured) -- measuring 89,600 tons and carrying 2,500 passengers -- and the third in the Musica class. Eighty percent of its staterooms will outsides, and 65 percent of the total number of cabins will feature balconies.
The new Panamax ship will be constructed by France-based Chantiers de l'Antique, and is slated to launch in March of 2008. The other four ships are also on MSC's tab at Chantiers: two Panamax ships (MSC Musica, launching this spring, and MSC Orchestra, launching in 2007) and two post-Panamax ships (MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata).