(7:30 a.m. EDT) -- MSC Cruises today (May 22) confirmed the construction of two new cruise ships, with an option for one more.
The new project, called "Seaside," will be the largest cruise ships ever built by Italian shipyard Fincantieri.
The 154,000-ton ships will cost 700 million euros each, with the first scheduled for delivery in November 2017 and the second arriving in May 2018.
The deal follows MSC Cruises' letter of intent with STX France, signed in March for another two ships (and two optioned) of 167,600 tons.
The line describes the new design as "revolutionary" and says it will pave the way for a new generation of cruise ships. The new features includes a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the ship with outdoor spaces, shops and restaurants.
"From the moment we started talking with Fincantieri, we had in mind to design and build two completely new ships, revolutionary in their structure, unlike anything that exists on the market today" said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises.
"Seaside is a futuristic prototype because of its structure, shape and versatility. It will be a real revolution in the world's cruise market, an excellent product for its unique and innovative architectural features and cutting-edge technology.”
The ships will have 2,070 cabins each and will be able to accommodate up to 5,300 passengers (at full occupancy), plus 1,413 crew members.
The ships will be 1,060 feet long and 135 feet wide, with a height of 230 feet, and have over 468,000 square feet of public areas, including a theater, a terraced balcony and panoramic lifts with sea views.
The contract was signed between Vago, MSC Cruises chief executive Gianni Onorato, and Fincantieri chief executive Giuseppe Bono.
"Today, MSC Cruises adds the last piece to its new industrial plan that will allow us to double the capacity of our fleet by 2022. With the arrival of the new ships we will reach a capacity of about 80,000 passengers a day," Onorato said.
The value of MSC Cruises' new orders with Fincantieri and STX France total almost 5 billion euros.
--by Adam Coulter, UK Editor