(4:10 p.m. EDT) -- MSC Cruises' newest vessel, the 5,632-passenger MSC Seashore, officially joined the fleet as the line's new flagship.
An intimate, in-person handover ceremony took place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, attended by MSC Cruises and Fincantieri executives as well as Enrico Giovannini, Italy's Minister of Sustainable Infrastructures and Mobility.
MSC Seashore is the largest cruise vessel ever built in Italy and the first in MSC's new Seaside EVO Class -- representing an evolution from the line's Seaside Class vessels, MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview.
MSC Seashore will be based in the Mediterranean, operating cruises between Marseilles, France, and Barcelona beginning in August. It's due to arrive in Miami in November for a season of Caribbean sailings.
During the ceremony, Roberto Olivari, Fincantieri's shipyard director, followed maritime tradition in presenting Giuseppe Galano, Master of MSC Seashore, with an ampoule containing the water that first touched the hull when the ship was floated out earlier this year.
MSC's Growing Fleet Expansion
Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of the Cruise Division of MSC Group, said at the ceremony that up to 4,300 workers were employed building MSC Seashore over the past two years.
"The delivery of this new flagship, particularly in this period, represents a decisive sign of reasoned optimism, which confirms our Group's confidence both in the future of the cruise sector, and in the capacity of Italian manufacturing and industry," Vago said.
The 170,400-gross-ton ship is the second to join the brand this year, with the first being MSC Virtuoso in May. The addition of MSC Seashore expands the fleet to 19 ships. A sister, MSC Seascape, is under construction at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard and is due to debut in winter 2022.
Highlight features on MSC Seashore include an expansion of the MSC Yacht Club, the brand's ship-within-a-ship concept, and an all-new aft lounge not found on sister ships MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview.
In addition, there are new specialty restaurants with al fresco dining, 200 added staterooms and expanded public spaces. The ship is also designed to be more environmentally friendly.
MSC Seashore's Mediterranean sailings will visit Genoa, Naples and Messina (Sicily), Italy and Valletta, Malta.
From its winter homeport in Miami, the ship will operate seven-night itineraries that call on San Juan; St. Thomas; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; and the cruise line's private Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in The Bahamas