The futuristic design of the new MSC World Class ships will maximise open space on board. Picture: MSC

South Africa needs no introduction to MSC Cruises, having grown familiar to ships like MSC Sinfonia, but now comes news that the fifth 172 000-ton Meraviglia-class ship is on order from the STX France shipyard. 

Due for delivery in 2023 the ship will be equipped with new generation dual-fuel engines able to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG). The ship will be named MSC Virtuosa.

This was announced recently at a unique shipyard ceremony as steel was cut for the fourth Meraviglia-class ship, to be named MSC Grandiosa, while another ship, MSC Bellissima was floated for the first time. 

Three cruise ships for the same company are under construction at the same shipyard at the same time.

When MSC Virtuosa enters service she will be joined at sea by up to four World class LNG-powered ships for which the company has signed letters of intent with STX France. 

Each of these will be over 200 000-gt and will enter service from 2022. Of all the various classes of MSC Cruises’ ships the World Class promises to be the most pleasing of designs.