Continuing Shawn J. Dake’s Cruise Ships 2012, The Year In Review: MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises newest addition, and third member of the Fantasia-class, had her debut on May 26th in Marseille, France following a christening by actress Sophia Loren who has served as Godmother for all of the line’s new buildings. All of their ships since 2003 have been built in France.
The MSC DIVINA is an expanded 139,400 gross ton version of the class designed to carry more passengers, 3,502 based on double occupancy, with a maximum capacity of 4,363 berths in all. Like the others, it was built at the STX France shipyard in St. Nazaire, where so many famous liners had their origins. The overall design was entrusted to De Jorio Design International. Among several unique features, the ship has an aft-facing Infinity Garden Pool and beach area, with spectacular views overlooking the ship’s wake.
As expected, MSC has taken over completion of a 140,000 gross ton sister ship to be named MSC PREZIOSA also being built at STX. The ship was originally ordered for the Libyan Maritime Authority but the political events of 2011 caused payments to be missed and the hull of yard number X32 was taken over by insurers. After modifications, delivery to MSC is now expected on March 23, 2013. The ship will feature an Aqua park stretching over two-decks including the longest shipboard waterslide. Four cases of meningitis were reported on the MSC ORCHESTRA in early October. The crew members were hospitalized and under isolation while all 2,800 passengers and crew members were given antibiotic prophylaxis doses.
In South Africa MSC Starlight Cruises greatly upped their capacity by deploying the 1,712-passenger MSC OPERA to this largely underserved market. The ship joined her near-sister MSC SINFONIA (ex EUROPEAN STARS) with a slightly smaller capacity of 1,554 passengers for southern summer cruises between the months of November and March. Previously the much smaller 1,062 passenger MSC MELODY (ex. ATLANTIC, STARSHIP ATLANTIC, MELODY) had been the second ship sailing from South Africa up until March, 2012. That ship returned to cruises in MSC’s home waters of the Mediterranean.
Also coming in November, 2013, MSC will relocate their North American departures from Port Everglades to Miami, bringing in their newest and largest ship the MSC DIVINA to replace the 92,627 gross ton MSC POESIA which continued to operate in the Caribbean through the winter of 2012/13. Eventually, the line plans to maintain a year-round presence in North America.
Shawn Dake is a freelance photo-journalist and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters.com. For more than a decade he has written his annual “Cruise Ships, The Year In Review” which has now grown to a nearly 15,000 word essay recalling all of the events that have taken place within the cruise industry the previous year.
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.