European cruise line MSC Cruises announced this week that it is extending its growth spurt. The operator has ordered four new ships that would break a long-held record in the industry: the number of passengers on board.
The privately held company is calling the new type of ship the “World Class,” and said the vessels will include 2,760 staterooms and a maximum occupancy of 6,850 passengers with every available bed filled. That number edges out Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class ships, which the company says can hold 6,780 passengers at maximum capacity.
MSC’s World Class ships, which are being built by STX France, are due to be delivered in 2022 and 2024. The company has options to purchase another two for arrival in 2025 and 2026.
Royal Caribbean International has been able to claim the world’s largest cruise ship title since Oasis of the Seas was delivered in 2009. Cruise lines typically consider a ship 100 percent full if two people occupy each stateroom, and that number is the capacity they use as a standard. For Oasis of the Seas, the double occupancy number was 5,400; Royal Caribbean says on a fact sheet that it can hold a maximum of 6,780.
The new MSC ships may in fact edge out the double occupancy numbers of the Oasis-class ships; two people each in 2,760 staterooms would amount to 5,520 passengers, though the company said that metric is not available yet. But the maximum occupancy of the World Class ships would be 6,850 with every available bed filled.
Royal Caribbean will still have the world’s physically largest ships, however. The largest of the Oasis-class vessels measure about 227,000 gross registered tons and 1,188 feet long, while the World Class will be 200,000 gross registered tons and 1,083 feet long.
With the just-announced ships, MSC expects to have a fleet of 23 vessels by 2026. The operator has 11 ships on order between now and then, including MSC Meraviglia, which was delivered this week.
With headquarters in Switzerland, MSC sails predominately in Europe but also has a significant presence in South America and South Africa. It has been making a bigger push in North America in recent years and will bring a new ship, MSC Seaside, to Miami in December.