Ultra-luxury cruises: MSC close to ordering four ships from Fincantieri

Genoa - With its Italian shipyards at full capacity, there’s the possibility of Vard. The Geneva-based cruise group is getting ready to enter the upper end of the market.

di Matteo Dell’Antico

Genoa - According to the SecoloXIX /TheMediTelegraph, MSC Cruises is close to officially placing a new order with the Fincantieri group, with the objective of entering the ultra-luxury cruise market, a first for the cruise group. The order would consist of four ships with a combined capacity of just over three thousand passengers. The new vessels would be much smaller than the mega-ships that currently form part of the Geneva group’s fleet, as well as those currently under construction and those slated for delivery in the coming years. Increasingly forceful rumours from the shipbuilding sector point to an order that is imminent, with only a few details to iron out before an official announcement. The vessels could be built in Italy, although Fincantieri’s Italian shipyards - including those at Genoa Sestri and Ancona - have a work backlog programmed till at least 2021. So, for this reason, should a deal be concluded, there’s the possibility that the four cruise ships could be built - at least in their initial phase - outside of Italy, with the shipyards of its subsidiary Vard being the most likely candidate; and then with the final outfitting later being done in Italy. Each vessel would carry approximately 700 passengers on board, with a crew of just over 200. Their overall length would be under 200 meters, and, at least initially, they would be deployed for cruises in the Mediterranean area. In 2017 Fincantieri had a total order backlog of 30 billion euro, a figure that is bound to go upwards during the current year, as new orders are announced.

STX deal in final stages

Meanwhile, the deal concerning the entry of Fincantieri into the shareholding structure of STX France is now entering its final stages. The Italian group could, finally, obtain in the next few days a 51% stake in the French shipbuilding company. The move would represent the culmination of negotiations that have lasted months, and which have not been free of ongoing tensions in the relations between Rome and Paris. On the other hand, following the friction that characterized relations between the two countries previously, on the occasion of a recent Business Forum organized by both countries’ Federations of Industries, Italy and France decided to begin a new chapter in industrial relations, proposing new business partnerships, ranging from aerospace to fashion, with the aim also of working together towards a stronger Europe. And the confirmation of this new climate was born out of the thorniest of recent episodes, namely the Fincantieri-STX deal. We passed through “a moment of great tension”, but we’re now embarking on a “great adventure”, assured Italy’s Minister of Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, who thanked in particular “the great deal of attention and courtesy” shown by French Economy Minister, Bruno Le Maire, who, in turn, confirmed that everything was currently “moving along at the right pace.”