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MSC Cruises Christens the biggest ship to be built by a European ship owner

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LE HAVRE, FRANCE – On Saturday, June 3, the latest wonder in the MSC Cruises fleet, MSC Meraviglia was christened in a glittering ceremony by international screen legend and godmother of all of MSC Cruises’ ships, Sophia Loren. At 171,598 GRT and with guest capacity of 5,714 (4,488 at double occupancy), MSC Meraviglia is the biggest ship to be built by a European ship owner, MSC Cruises, and also the biggest ship to come into service in 2017.

MSC Cruises, the Swiss-based world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, hosted the glamorous, high-profile event in Le Havre, with entertainment from top international performers and an exclusive gala dinner in the company of special guests, authorities, key partners from the travel industry, global media and top management from MSC Cruises and its parent company MSC Group. Gianluigi Aponte, MSC Group’s founder and executive chairman as well as the ship owner, attended together with the Aponte and Aponte-Vago families.

“We have an ambitious vision for the future and MSC Meraviglia marks the start of the second phase of growth for our company,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman. “For this reason, this is an extremely proud moment for all of us at MSC Cruises as we see the first of our next-generation ships being named.”

“The new ships that we are building – between 2017 and 2020 alone, we will receive six new ships – are purpose-built, featuring innovation in both product and design, as well as the very latest-cutting edge marine and consumer-facing technology to create unforgettable holiday experiences at sea for guests of all ages. MSC Meraviglia is the first to make this vision come to life, as it sets a new standard for cruise ships as a destination in itself.”

MSC Meraviglia is the Company’s new flagship and the 13th addition to the MSC Cruises fleet as well as the first new MSC Cruises ship due to come into service under the Company’s industry-unprecedented investment plan.

Both the ship herself and Saturday’s event have been inspired by the wonders of the world, as Meraviglia literally means wonder. The christening ceremony itself was hosted by one of Europe’s most loved comedians, Gad Elmaleh. The audience was also entertained by internationally renowned artist Patrick Bruel who performed a selection of his most loved songs. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Kids United also performed representing a diverse world, promoting peace and tolerance1.

The crowning moment of the evening was the parade of the ship’s officers, when Sophia Loren cut the ribbon and named MSC Meraviglia to a time-honored crescendo of champagne and fireworks. Mrs. Loren has held a close relationship with MSC Cruises for over a decade, when she first became godmother of MSC Lirica, in 2003. As the MSC Cruises fleet continued to grow, she blessed each and every new ship, reflecting MSC Cruises’ belief not only in loyalty, but also in Loren’s unique beauty, talent and elegant style – the same elements that distinguish every aspect on board an MSC Cruises ship.

In order to conclude on a note of haute cuisine Helene Darroze, the chef with the 2 Michelin stars created an exceptional menu for the VIP gala dinner as well as an exclusive dish for all guests. The menu takes inspiration from Chef Darroze’s passion for combining the flavors of France with those of the UK to create a simple yet elegant gourmet experience for the guests. MSC Cruises and Chef Darroze hope to extend the collaboration beyond the evening of the christening and work is underway to establish a partnership.

MSC Meraviglia is able to call in most of the world’s international cruise ports and is set to become one of the hottest destinations at sea. Some of the unique features that set MSC Cruises’ newest flagship apart include:

  • World-class entertainment from Cirque du Soleil with two exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows created just for MSC Meraviglia with two performances six nights a week, guests can enjoy a unique show & dinner or cocktail & show experience
  • Widest range of dining options and bars on any MSC Cruises ship to-date with 12 dining venues and 20 bars
  • As a family-owned company, kids’ activities and services are at the very core of the guest offering and the dedicated family deck area includes a brand new entertainment offering and cutting-edge facilities for the whole family.
  • MSC for Me, the new digital experience designed for guests to get the most out of their vacation, connecting them to the experiences that matter to them
  • The MSC Yacht Club with new features and luxurious accommodations spanning three decks, private facilities and butler service round-the-clock
  • The longest LED Sky Screen at Sea at 262 feet long encompassing a stunning 315 foot long Mediterranean-style promenade, designed to become the social hub of the ship
  • Comfortable and innovative accommodations to meet every need demonstrating the way that MSC Cruises puts the guest at the heart of its designs and ship building and with 10 different types of staterooms to choose from, there really is something for everyone.

MSC Cruises and Air France-KLM further strengthen global partnership to best cruise holiday makers
MSC Cruises and Air France-KLM signed yesterday a global agreement offering exclusive services and greater flexibility for holidaymakers booking Fly&Cruise holiday packages. Thanks to this, MSC Cruises guests will now be able to combine their cruise holidays packages with flights from and to virtually any airport in the world served by Air France-KLM as well as receive other dedicated benefits making for a seamless holiday experience. The new global partnership further strengthens and extends an existing agreement with Air France-KLM which offers high level of service and great connectivity between France, Cuba and other Caribbean destinations.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We are delighted to further extend our partnership with Air France-KLM. As Fly&Cruise packages are ever more instrumental in providing an all-inclusive and consistent cruise experience, more of our guests can now benefit from Air France-KLM’s and our Company’s impeccable joint-service from the minute they leave their homes.”

Through this partnership, MSC Cruises and Air France-KLM are committed to delivering best-in-class experiences for cruise guests all across the world. Flights operated by, Air France, KLM and HOP! Air France will provide the outstanding level of service that MSC Cruises guests expect in connection with their cruise holiday. Moreover the airline’s extensive network will allow more international guests to choose an MSC Cruises holiday of their preference, anywhere in the world.

Patrick Alexandre, Air France-KLM Executive Vice President, Commercial, Sales and Alliances, added: “Air France-KLM is proud to enhance its current cooperation with MSC Cruises. By partnering together, we will provide our mutual guests with a seamless and most enjoyable flight and cruise experience. This three year contract is a best-in-class example of what Air France-KLM wants to build with key partners: share the long term vision to grow together.”

Fly&Cruise packages have proven to be successful with MSC Cruises’ guests and since 2012, the number of Fly&Cruise packages sold has tripled and is expected to grow by another 60% in the following two years. By the end of 2017, nearly 250,000 MSC Cruises guests are expected to choose a cruise holiday experience inclusive of flight.

Since the beginning, MSC Cruises has partnered with Air France-KLM to create special dedicated packages and services for the benefit of holiday makers, making sure key cruise destinations become even more reachable and attractive. For example, MSC Cruises guests can comfortably reach with Air France-KLM flights highly appealing destinations such as Cuba, Fort-de-France, Miami and the Caribbean as well as Brazil.

While the initial partner agreement focused on flights out of France predominantly, this newly improved and global agreement – extended through a 3-year contract – will allow guests to fly to their cruise holiday destination of choice from and to practically any airport in the world.

Guests buying an MSC Cruises “Fly&Cruise” package will also be able to choose their cabin class (Business, Premium Economy or Economy) aboard Air France long-haul flights, and World Business Class or Economy Class aboard KLM flights. By travelling on Air France Business Class and World Business Class of KLM, this includes access to Business Class lounges, fast-track dedicated check-in at many airports, and a host of other benefits before and after their flight, including two checked items of baggage and two cabin bags per person, and the possibility of earning Air Miles through the Air France-KLM Flying Blue frequent flyer programme.

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