MSC Cruises: Full Steam Ahead For MSC Fantasia And MSC Splendida

ST. NAZAIRE, FRANCE (Oct. 24, 2007) — Today another important step was taken in the development of MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida, two of the largest cruise liners to be built for a European ship owner.

The positioning of the keel for MSC Splendida was celebrated at the Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France. This new class of ship – a giant of the seas – will be 133,500 gross tons and delivered in June 2009.

MSC Splendida is a name that represents elegance and a gentle personality — feminine qualities well represented by the many women who make up the workforce on this project.

In total, four coins were part of the ceremony. Three were minted in collaboration with the city of Sorrento and one from Aker Yards. Following in the steps of shipbuilding tradition, two gold coins were welded to the keel. One coin came from the city of Sorrento and one from the yard. This timeless and ancient tradition goes back to Roman times and consolidates the relationship between ship owner and ship builder.

One side of each of the three coins minted in collaboration with the city of Sorrento is embossed with an image of the port of Sorrento (the emblem of the city). The other side features the MSC Cruises’ logo. Sorrento is the headquarters of the technical department of MSC Cruises and the birthplace of the owner. These three coins are made of gold – the first was placed in the keel, one was kept as a memento by the Mayor of Sorrento and the third will remain at the MSC Cruises technical department office in Sorrento.

The coin donated by Aker Yards France, was minted in Naples, where MSC Cruises has its headquarters, in the year 1847 and is embossed with the image of the King of the two Sicilies – Ferdinando II, the pioneer of industrialization in Italy. He worked to create the first railway in 1839 which connected Naples to Portici. Even on that occasion, the project was carried out by a French and Italian collaboration.
Godmothers for this ceremony will be Carla Gotta of MSC Cruises and Elise Bodin of Aker Yards France. Carla has been part of the MSC team since 1968 and today is Port Operation Manager for MSC Crociere in Genoa. Elise is responsible for the steel works at the shipyard.

“This ceremony represents yet another significant step as we continue the expansion strategy that we began in 2000 when we placed the order for MSC Lirica. We are the only company in the world with a single brand that has been successfully opening offices around the world in 31 countries,” declared Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO MSC Crociere. “MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida will herald a new concept for cruise ships. Both ships introduce a new philosophy with regards to public areas, starting with an exclusive VIP area and furnished with the most prestigious materials and avante guard technology to safeguard the environment.”

“Just like her sister ship MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida will have luxurious interiors, the best quality materials and spacious cabins,” added Jacques Hardelay, Managing Director Aker Yards France. “We are proud and delighted to be part of the expansion of the MSC Cruises fleet as we further consolidate our long standing relationship and look to more interesting projects in the future.”

After the coin ceremony for MSC Splendida, guests were able to visit three mock-up staterooms of MSC Fantasia.