MSC Italian Cruises Acquires Festival’s Vision

April 23, 2004

MSC Italian Cruises is the first to pick-up a ship from the Festival/First European Cruises fleet with its acquisition of the 58,600-ton,600-passenger European Vision. That vessel, which has been stranded in Barbados since last winter, when Festival/First European's creditors pulled financing, cost MSC, according to news reports, 215 million euros.

A call to MSC Italian Cruises' U.S. marketing office for details was not returned.

In a press release issued by the Geneva-based company's head office, MSC will rename European Vision as the MSC Armonia. The ship will begin sailing at the end of May after what MSC calls a "complete restyling". Alas, no specifics were made available. Its itinerary will be a seven night roundtrip from Venice (on Sundays) and Bari (on Mondays), calling at Corfu, Santorini, Athens, Katakolon, and Dubrovnik.

European Vision-nee-MSC Armonia, built in 2001, was intended to be that line's flagship as it began to design and build its own ships rather than acquire older vessels from other companies. In fact, the ship (which has a sister ship called European Stars, which is still in limbo), features key contemporary amenities – kids' play center, Internet cafe, rock climbing wall, alternative restaurant -- though it features a smaller cabins-with-balconies ratio than many mainstream American lines.

Another interesting tidbit: This ship, even pre-acquisition, is already part of the family, so to speak; European Vision was built on an almost identical layout(at France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique, the same shipyard) as MSC's own Lirica -- its first newbuild.

With the addition of MSC Armonia, MSC Italian Cruises now has a fleet of six vessels -- and will add its second-ever newbuild, the MSC Opera, in June.