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Despite stalled growth in China, Brazil and Russia, a wave of newly middle-class travelers from the BRICs and beyond will start visiting international destinations in the coming decades — dwarfing the numbers we’ve seen thus far.
It’s a bold move for the European line to build two of the world’a largest ships.
Fast-growing European cruise line MSC Cruises plans to grow even more.
The Geneva-based cruise operator announced Thursday morning that it has signed a letter of intent with the STX France shipyard to build two new massive ships, with the option of ordering two more. The ships are scheduled for deliver in 2017 and 2019; the contract will be binding when financing is secured, the company said.
MSC’s new ships will be among the largest in the world, coming in at 167,600 tons with capacity for 4,500 passengers at double occupancy. Maximum occupancy is 5,700 passengers.
Including all four potential ships, the investment would be close to 3 billion euros, or roughly $4 billion.
“Growth and development have always been the characteristics that have defined MSC since the very beginning of our journey into the world of cruising,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, in a statement. “The launch of this prototype and the building of these two new ships confirm our commitment to further growth and to further development.”
The company’s CEO, Gianni Onorato, said in the statement that the new class of ship would be able to call in most ports and destinations in the world and be appropriate for sailing in winter or summer. The ships will features a bigger theater, cabins specially designed for families, a two-deck inside promenade and an “amusement park connected to an outdoor aqua park.” The MSC Yacht Club, a cluster of private high-end accommodations with a solarium, lounge and restaurant, will also be expanded.
Construction is slated to begin next spring.
MSC has 12 ships that sail in Europe, South America, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and the Caribbean. The company stationed a ship in Miami year-round for the first time last year.