(4 p.m. BST) -- MSC Cruises and STX France signed an order Thursday for the construction of a fifth Meraviglia-class cruise ship for delivery in 2023.
The liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered ship takes MSC Cruises' order book to 13 new ships over 10 years and will cost 900 million euros.
The announcement came at a historic ceremony at the shipyard, which saw three significant events: the float outof MSC Bellissima, the coin ceremony for MSC Grandiosa and the steel cutting for MSC's second Meraviglia Plus-class vessel, which the line announced will be called MSC Virtuosa.
MSC Bellissima is the second in the line's Meraviglia Class; MSC Grandiosa is the line's first Meraviglia Plus-class ship, third in the Meraviglia line and MSC Virtuosa is the fourth in Meraviglia-class.
For the first time in Saint-Nazaire's history, three cruise ships belonging to a single cruise line are under simultaneous construction at the shipyard.
Speaking before opening the valves to flood the dry dock where MSC Bellissima is being built, Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises' executive chairman, said: "With the announcement of yet another new vessel, the 13th under our 10-year investment plan, we are affirming our commitment to sustainable growth for our company. I say this while three more next-generation MSC cruises are now simultaneously under construction.
"Our fifth Meraviglia-class cruise ship will bring a new generation of cutting-edge environmental technology to the market, benefiting from a new generation of LNG-powered engines. This will help us further reduce our environmental footprint and advance in our journey of constant improvement. She will be joined at sea by up to four World Class LNG-powered ships as part of our overall commitment to environmental stewardship through this and other next-generation technologies and solutions deployed fleetwide."
Antonio Paradiso, managing director of UK and Ireland, said: "This is a particularly pertinent moment for the UK and Ireland, as it marks another step closer to MSC Bellissima's christening in Southampton on March 2, 2019. In less than nine months, she will become the new flagship in MSC Cruises' ever-growing fleet, as well as the largest ship ever to be christened in the UK. We are delighted that she will depart for her inaugural sailing from the UK and hope that many other UK and Irish guests enjoy her first season in the Western Mediterranean."
--By Adam Coulter, Managing Editor, UK