MSC plans Miami cruise terminals, may homeport new World-class ships in city

In a major statement of its intentions for North American expansion, MSC Cruises has signed a letter of intent with PortMiami for the development of a new cruise terminal at the port that would be for the exclusive use of the Italian cruise line.

While MSC Cruises has been sailing roundtrip from Miami for several years, its three-ship line-up (MSC Seaside, MSC Armonia and MSC Davina) currently berths at Terminal F. These new plans would see MSC design, build and operate a terminal of its for Caribbean itineraries.

MSC Davina is currently one of three MSC ships homeporting in Miami.

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The letter outlines the development of either two cruise terminals for two ships, or one large terminal capable of accommodating two ship’s simultaneously.

“This letter is a blueprint for the further expansion of cruise operations at the world’s leading cruise port,” said Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Group’s Executive Chairman. “It will allow us to attract to Miami even more MSC Cruises’ guests coming from more than 170 countries.”

Miami is the busiest cruise port in the world with more than 4.5-million passengers annually.

The letter of intent states that MSC Cruises will fund the entirety of the design, build and operation of the terminals, as well as the construction of associated infrastructure, such as parking garages, a maritime office and provisioning facilities.

The cruise line has not said when construction is planned to commence, but the cruise terminal, if approved by local authorities, is slated to open by November, 2022.

MSC Cruises’ new World-class will be the second-largest class of cruise ship in the world after Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships.

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That’s the same year that the first of its new class of cruise ships, the World-class, will be launched, suggesting that the 200,000-gross ton ship might be homeported in Miami as the cruise line goes head-to-head with Carnival’s new Mardi Gras (due in 2020) and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class.

This latest announcement from MSC expands on a memorandum of understanding signed last year that called for a terminal able to accommodate a 7,000-passenger ship. The new agreement needs space for two such vessels.

Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez flew to the MSC headquarters in Geneva for the signing and said the agreement was an “incredible opportunity” for Miami-Dade County.

“I’m proud and grateful for MSC’s business expansion,” he said. “This public-private partnership represents growth and prosperity for the South Florida community.”

MSC Cruises currently operates a fleet of 15 ships, with 14 scheduled for delivery through 2027 (two are being delivered this year alone).

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