Film star Sophia Loren, the godmother of the entire MSC Cruises fleet, christened Preziosa against a backdrop of music conducted by Ennio Morricone, who has composed some of the most recognisable film scores including "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." MSC CEO Pierfrancesco Vago said: "(Preziosa) will become a symbol of the cruise industry, which has continued to grow despite of the recession. With the introduction of Preziosa, MSC is now the third-largest cruise company in the world."
During the event, Preziosa was flanked by sister ships Splendida and Opera. Including their passengers and crew -- and the 2,000 international guests invited to the ceremony -- more than 10,000 people watched the christening, which ended with a spectacular fireworks display.
The 139,400-ton vessel, with 1,751 cabins in nine categories -- and a capacity for 3,502 passengers -- is the 12th ship in the MSC Cruises fleet and the fourth in the flagship Fantasia class. Unique features include the 120 metre Vertigo -- the longest single-rider waterslide on the waves -- a children's aqua park themed around pirates, adult-only sundeck and two Eataly restaurants, the first marine partnership with the Italian chain that promotes the slow-food philosophy. The new extended shopping area and Diamond Bar and Library is a departure from the other Fantasia-class ships.
Preziosa has seven restaurants, 12 bars and lounges, four pools, an Aurea spa and the members-only MSC Yacht Club, a "ship within a ship" with 69 cabins, 24-hour concierge, butler service, a private pool and lounge.
Founded in 2003, MSC Cruises has invested €6 billion in its fleet. It carried 1.4 million passengers last year and has set a target of 1.6 million in 2013.
--by Jeanine Williamson, Cruise Critic Contributor