MSC Cruises, the Italy-based cruise line that many equate with Carnival-owned Costa, announced today it has placed the biggest new-build order in its history. It's also the largest new-build order ever contracted by a European cruise line. The contract calls for two vessels, each measuring 133,500 tons and carrying 3,300 passengers (double occupancy). The ships will be built at France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique.

Though no details were provided about the features and design of the new vessels, MSC did select a shipyard that's become fairly legendary for building prototypes or utterly unique one-time vessels such as Celebrity's Milllennium class and Cunard's Queen Mary 2.

That same shipyard is also building the fast-expanding line's other ships on order: the 90,000-ton, 2,550-passenger MSC Musica, slated for launch next summer, and MSC Orchestra, a sister ship, which debuts in spring 2007. Chantiers de l'Atlantique already built another pair of vessels for MSC, MSC Lirica and MSC Opera.

The mega-twins, named Fantasia and Serenata, are scheduled for delivery in spring 2008 and 2009 respectively.