Another giant Meraviglia Class cruise ship on the way for MSC Cr - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Another giant Meraviglia Class cruise ship on the way for MSC Cruises

Posted: Updated: Jun 18, 2018 7:31 AM
Another line that has been rolling out bigger and boxier ships in recent years is MSC Cruises. Here, MSC Cruises' new MSC Meraviglia, the fourth largest cruise ship in the world. Another line that has been rolling out bigger and boxier ships in recent years is MSC Cruises. Here, MSC Cruises' new MSC Meraviglia, the fourth largest cruise ship in the world.

Fast-growing MSC Cruises has ordered yet another giant cruise ship.

The Europe-based line on Thursday said it had signed a contract with French shipyard STX France for a fifth vessel in its new Meraviglia Class series to debut in 2023.

Measuring 183,500 gross tons, the as-yet-unnamed ship will be larger than any MSC Cruises vessel built to date. Only four vessels currently at sea are bigger.

Designed for an international audience including North Americans, the new ship will be able to hold up to 6,335 passengers. It'll be a larger version of the only Meraviglia Class vessel currently at sea: MSC Meraviglia. Unveiled in June 2017 and measuring 171,598 tons, Meraviglia currently is the fifth largest cruise vessel ever built, smaller only than the four Oasis Class ships that Royal Caribbean has unveiled since 2009.

RELATED: MSC Cruises unveils third new ship in a year

A second Meraviglia Class vessel that is similar in size to Meraviglia, to be called MSC Bellissima, is scheduled to debut in March. A third, bigger Meraviglia Class ship to be called MSC Grandiosa is due in November 2019. A fourth in the series to be called MSC Virtuosa is on order for 2020.

The debut of the Meraviglia Class in 2017 was a significant milestone for MSC, which is a giant of cruising in Europe but still relatively unknown in North America. Nineteen decks high and more than 1,000 feet long, Meraviglia was the first MSC vessel to rank among the top five biggest cruise ships, and its arrival kicked off a period of rapid growth at the line that likely will see it compete more closely with such North American-based cruise leaders as Royal Caribbean and Carnival.

Currently operating 15 ships, MSC is in the midst of adding at least 10 more vessels by 2026. The company's passenger capacity is set to nearly triple over a 10-year period.

MSC executives have said they plan to significantly expand the line's presence in North America over the next few year, with the Meraviglia Class ships playing a role. After initially sailing in Europe, Meraviglia will redeploy to North America in 2019.

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