(3 p.m. GMT) -- MSC Cruises today cut the first piece of steel for its ground-breaking new generation ship -- the first of its World Class vessels -- at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, and revealed it will be named MSC Europa.
It is the first of five liquified natural gas (LNG) powered ships on order from MSC Cruises and the first LNG ship to be built in France.
Carrying up to 6,761 passengers, the 205,000-tonne vessel will become the largest cruise ship in the world (by passenger capacity) when it debuts in 2022 -- eclipsing Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, the current record holder, which can carry up to 6,680 passengers.
MSC has already announced plans for three more World Class ships, which will be delivered by 2026.
Representatives from MSC, the shipyard and specially-invited guests gathered to watch the traditional ceremony that marks the start of construction of a cruise ship.
After cutting the steel, MSC's Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vaga, said: "Today is even more significant as we begin the construction of our first of five LNG-propelled ships, which will further elevate our standards in environmentally-sound cruising thanks to this use of alternative fuels, as well as other cutting-edge technologies.
"With each new ship we raise the bar of environmental performance and our ultimate goal is zero emissions operations."
In addition to the four World Class vessels, a new Meraviglia-class ship will also be completely powered by LNG fuel.
The steel-cutting ceremony marked the start of work on the 15th vessel built for MSC at the shipyard. It was held in a steel cutting workshop where up to 1,000 pieces of steel are cut every day.
Laurent Castaing, General Manager, Chantiers de l'Atlantique, added: "We are very proud of our long relationship with MSC and the start of work on both the first World Class ship and the first LNG ship. The innovative vessel is a predictor for the cruise ships of the future."