Middle East Cruise News

MSC takes delivery of Dubai-bound Virtuosa, the first cruise ship with a humanoid bartender

MSC Cruises has taken delivery of MSC Virtuosa, expanding its fleet to 18 ships and adding a second cruise ship to its innovative Meraviglia Plus-class line-up.

The cruise line took delivery of MSC Virtuosa at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France, with Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, saying the event underscored his long-term faith in the industry amid the current pandemic.

MSC and shipyard executives at the delivery ceremony.

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“My family and I could not miss this opportunity to welcome in person the newest member to our fleet,” said Vago, who was accompanied by his wife Alexa Aponte-Vago and their children.

“The delivery of MSC Virtuosa at such a challenging time for our industry symbolizes how as a family company we continue to look at the longer term and build our future,” he added.

Vago, who last year dismissed any speculation that MSC Cruises might sell some ships amid a world-wide shutdown of the cruise industry, said that the cruise line remains committed to building some of the most innovative ships in the world.

“When it comes to their environmental performance, [they feature] nothing but the most advanced available technology at sea,” he said. “Just as importantly, with each new ship we continue to push boundaries and innovate our product offering with new and unique experiences for our guests.”

The humanoid bartender will tend to passengers in the Starship Club.

MSC Virtuosa will feature the world’s first robotic, humanoid bartender at sea. He will be the star of a futuristic, immersive experience using cutting-edge technologies in Starship Club, one of 21 bars aboard.

The addition of a humanoid bartender is MSC Cruises’ latest move to compete with Royal Caribbean International, which features robotic bartenders in the Bionic Bar aboard its Quantum-class and new Oasis-class cruise ships.

MSC Cruises has also begun construction of its World-class cruise ships, which feature a similar design and size to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class.

MSC Virtuosa will be deployed in the Middle East next year.

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MSC Virtuosa’s dining offering has been further enhanced with two new restaurant concepts that showcase popular international cuisines to take guests on a gastronomic journey of discovery, as well as ten other dining venues.

“This is of course in addition to the richness of experience that already sets us apart such as the grand-scale nightly theatrical shows, the award-winning family offering, industry-leading guest technology, of course the now iconic promenade with a stunning 91.8 metre long LED sky dome that is the social heart of the ship and more,” said Vago.

Some of the advanced environmental technology aboard MSC Virtuosa includes:

Hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) and cutting-edge selective catalytic reduction systems (SCR);

Wastewater treatment systems in line with the International Maritime Organization’s MEPC 227(64) Resolution;

Shore-to-ship power connectivity;

Underwater radiated noise management systems, with hull and engine room designs that minimise acoustic sound impact, reducing their potential effects on marine fauna.

MSC Virtuosa received 11 Golden Pearls from Bureau Veritas for her range of environmental protection and health and safety features and is the first cruise ship in the world to receive a BIORISK notation from Bureau Veritas in recognition of her ability to mitigate and manage infectious disease risk for passengers.

MSC Cruises has previously announced the ambitious goal of achieving a carbon-neutral cruise operation, and Vago said MSC Virtuosa was another step on that long-term journey.

“Our long-term goal is to achieve a zero-impact cruise operation and this is the journey we are on today,” he said. “MSC Virtuosa represents another important step in this direction together with our other investments in the accelerated development of next-generation environmental technology.”

MSC Cruises will send MSC Virtuosa to the UAE next year, where she will homeport during the winter season between November and March, sailing one-week roundtrip cruises in the Arabian Gulf from Dubai.

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