Middle East Cruise News

MSC takes delivery of Dubai-bound Bellissima, marks milestone for new Virtuosa

MSC Cruises’ new ship MSC Bellissima has officially been handed over to the cruise line by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in France, and is now en-route to Southampton for one of the biggest cruise ship naming ceremonies of the year.

MSC Bellissima was officially handed over to MSC Cruises when the shipyard lowered it’s flag from her navigation mast. MSC Cruises then raised its own flag aboard the vessel, accepting delivery.

MSC Bellissima has departed the shipyard in France, bound for Southampton

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MSC Bellissima’s shipyard godmother, Ella Aponte — granddaughter of Gianluigi Aponte, MSC’s founder and chairman, then gave a small blessing and cut a ribbon, releasing a bottle of champagne against the ship’s side.

The 4,500-passenger ship (which will homeport in Dubai later this year), will be officially named by screen icon Sophia Loren at a ceremony in Southampton on Saturday (March 2).

Sophia Loren is a long-standing friend of the cruise line for MSC. She has named every single newbuild launched by the line.

On the same day as the MSC Belissima handover, MSC Cruises also marked the coin ceremony for its next new ship, MSC Virtuosa, due for delivery in November, 2020.

The coin ceremony is a maritime tradition in the early stages of a newbuild that sees a coin welded to the keel of the vessel with two long-standing employees from the shipyard and the ship owner acting as godmothers.

Lise Guérin, Project Manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Helen Huang, President, Greater China, MSC Cruises stepped up for the occasion.

Lise Guérin, Project Manager, Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Helen Huang, President, Greater China, MSC Cruises, mark the coin laying ceremony for Virtuosa

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MSC Virtuosa will be the fourth of the Meraviglia-class ships (MSC Bellissima is second), and the second of three Meraviglia-plus ships (the first being MSC Grandiosa, due later this year).

“Today marks another chapter in the story of our partnership with Chantiers de l’Atlantique,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman. “Together we have already brought to life 14 highly-innovative cruise ships, paving the way for our company’s initial growth.”

“Many more will be built together over the coming years to further deepen the reach of our fleet,” he added.

MSC Bellissima is the fourth cruise ship to join the MSC Cruises fleet in the last two years, and will be joined by thirteen more in the coming eight years.

These include four 200,000-gross ton World Class mega cruise ships carrying nearly 7,000 guests, as well as four smaller ships that will serve the ultra-luxury segment.

MSC Bellissima will depart on her first scheduled cruise voyage on March 4th, from Southamton to Genoa, where she will homeport for her inaugural season cruising in the Western Mediterranean.

In November she will reposition to the Arabian Gulf, cruising roundtrip from Dubai on 7-night cruises to Muscat, Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island and Khasab.

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