Work on the MSC Meraviglia cruise ship is in full swing at STX France’s Saint-Nazaire shipyard. Quayside outfitting began soon after the ship was floated out of its construction dock in early September. Hull construction involved the assembly of 48 blocks, some weighing up to 1000 tonnes. Over 2000 employees of STX France and its subcontractors are working on the ship’s indoor and outdoor spaces every day. MSC Meraviglia is the operator’s largest ship to date.
Up to 5,714 passengers
With a length overall of 315.8 metres, a maximum beam of 51.8, a waterline beam of 43, and a height of 65, MSC Meraviglia will have a gross tonnage of 167,600. The design comprises 2,246 staterooms and suites accommodating up to 5,714 passengers served by a crew of 1,536.
The staterooms are being slotted into place and the equipment spaces and public areas outfitted. The two-deck ‘inside promenade’ and the adjoining bars and shops are taking shape and progressing visibly with each passing week. The first panels of the covered promenade’s huge LED dome, or digital sky, were recently installed and tested.
The two-deck ‘inside promenade’ (© Bernard Biger - STX France)
The theatre designed for original shows by Cirque du Soleil (© Bernard Biger - STX France)
Features include 12 dining areas, 20 or more bars and cafes, two theatres, including one especially designed for original shows by Cirque du Soleil, a casino, a spa, a gym, a bowling alley, a water park with three twisting slides, pools and a choice of luxury suites each with its own private balcony. Outfitting is an enormous job involving dozens of trades and professions. Overall, the design, construction and outfitting of MSC Meraviglia represents 6 million person-hours.
Teams on MSC Meraviglia employed by STX France and its co-contractors have also begun commissioning the ship’s systems. The first diesel engine was started for the first time just this week (14–20 November).
In January 2017, the propellers of the ship’s two Azipods are scheduled to be set in motion. An Azipod is a steerable, or azimuthing, pod housing a large electric motor serving as both propeller and rudder.
The MSC Meraviglia's two Azipods (© Bernard Biger - STX France)
Delivery in May 2017
The first sea trial is scheduled for late March. This will be followed by a short period in drydock and a series of trials off Brittany in April. Then it will be time for the finishing touches in preparation for delivery in late May. On leaving Saint-Nazaire, MSC Meraviglia will sail to Le Havre to be formally christened on 3 and 4 June as part of the events to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the port’s founding by Francis I, the first King of France, in 1517. The mega-ship will then set sail for the Mediterranean where she will operate one-week cruises taking in Italy, Spain and France.
(© Bernard Biger - STX France)
(© Bernard Biger - STX France)
First of four
MSC Meraviglia is the first of four Vista-generation mega-ships. The second, MSC Belissima, is scheduled for completion in early 2019. In late 2019, STX France’s Saint-Nazaire shipyard will deliver the third of the series which will be even larger following MSC Cruises’ decision to add a 15-metre section. The third and fourth of the series will each have a length overall of 331 metres and 2,444 staterooms for a gross tonnage of 177,100. The fourth of the series is scheduled to enter service in 2020.
(© MSC CRUISES)
Four 200,000-GT mega-ships to follow
A letter of intent signed in April 2016 by MSC Cruises and STX France calls for four even larger vessels. MSC’s World Class ships will have 2,750 staterooms, a gross tonnage of 200,000 and be powered by liquefied natural gas. The ships are provisionally scheduled for delivery in 2022, 2024, 2025 and 2026, with order confirmation expected over the coming months. While the ten cruise ships built for MSC Cruises between 2003 and 2013 represented an investment €6.5 billion, the construction of the four Vista-generation vessels is valued at €3 billion and that of the four World Class ships at €4 billion.
Written by Vincent Groizeleau, translated by Steve Dyson