MSC Confirms First Two Post-Pandemic Large Cruise Ship Orders in France
MSC Cruises confirmed today that it has exercised the option for two more cruise ships that will be among the largest currently in the industry while also taking an option for a fifth cruise ship of the class from Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The ships, which will each be approximately 215,800 gross tons, are the first large cruise ships ordered by the industry in over three years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The orders were fixed for the cruise ships to be delivered in 2026 and 2027 as the third and fourth World Class ships. At 1,092 feet in length and with 22 passenger decks, the World Class is by size the third largest class in the cruise industry following Royal Caribbean International’s Icon class (250,800 gross tons) which is also currently building, and the Oasis Class, the largest of which is 235,600 gross tons. MSC’s World Class has a capacity for more than 6,700 passengers and 2,100 crew.
“At a difficult time for the European shipbuilding industry, MSC Cruises has shown its confidence in our abilities and skills with this order,” said Laurent Castaing, General Manager of Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The shipyard has built 18 cruise ships for MSC, which currently has a fleet of 22 cruise ships, and is currently at nearly the halfway point on the MSC World America, the second ship of the class. The French shipyard recently began work on its last order for a large cruise ship, for Royal Caribbean Group’s Celebrity Cruises, while delivering another large cruise ship. The yard’s orderbook also includes a few smaller, luxury cruise ships.
Many in the industry had been confident that there would be future orders for large cruise ships as the market has rebounded in 2023 with strong bookings, advance reservations, and improved pricing. MSC placed the original order in 2016, reporting it planned to build four ships. The first, MSC World Europa, was introduced in November 2022.
LNG tanks installed in October 2023 aboard the MSC World America building in France (MSC Cruises)
Work on the MSC World America began in October 2022 with the ceremonial first steel cut and assembly began in the dry dock earlier this year. Last month, the shipyard yard installed the cruise ship’s two large LNG fuel tanks. The ship is due to enter service in April 2025 sailing from Miami. MSC reports the design and amenities are being customized to the American market with for example a new recreation area for families traveling with children and two new restaurant concepts.
The World Class, like all the large cruise ships, offers a broad array of amenities. This includes a total of 13 restaurants, 20 bars and lounges, six swimming pools, and an 11-deck high outdoor slide. MSC began using LNG as the primary fuel for its cruise ships with the MSC World Europa. They report that the World Class design is among the most efficient cruise ships, performing significantly better than the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) requirement.
MSC will be incorporating further enhancements in the equipment for the next cruise ships. They will use a new-generation dual-fuel engine with reduced methane slip. They will also be ready for a variety of alternative fuels, such as bio and synthetic methane and green methanol. MSC anticipates using alternative fuels as bio and synthetic fuels become available at scale.
The third and fourth World Class cruise ships will also make extensive use of heat recovery and other technologies. They will be outfitted to use shore power where available and have advanced wastewater treatment systems. According to MSC, the ships will emit 50 percent less CO2 than the IMO’s 2008 benchmark.