Patrick Boissier, the shipyard's president, and MSC's CEO Pierfrancesco Vago were on hand for the ceremonial welding of two coins into the keel of the ship. Rafaela Aponte (the wife of Gianluigi Aponte, parent company Mediterranean Shipping Company's president) was also in attendance.
It is maritime tradition to mark the first keel-laying with the placement of coins to ensure good luck for a ship's life at sea; a 5 GBP Queen's Golden Jubilee coin and a commemorative French coin reside under the first section of keel laid on Queen Mary 2.
Yesterday's ceremony also marks a continuing partnership between MSC and Alstom Marine, which handled the building of MSC Lirica, MSC Opera and MSC Musica (the latter, a sister ship to MSC Orchestra, will nudge MSC into the "big ship" league when it launches this summer).
Alstom Marine has also been contracted for two future new-builds: MSC Fantasia and MSC Serenata, 133,500-ton post-Panamax vessels slated for launch in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
MSC Orchestra will debut in spring 2007.