MSC Group and Onorato Armatori have signed a contract with Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI) and China Shipbuilding Trading Co (CSTC) to build four 2,500-pax, 3,765-lane meter luxury cruise ferries.
Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), MSC Group’s Genoa-based ferry operation will take delivery of the first and third vessel, while Onorato Armatori (Moby Lines) will take delivery of the second and fourth ropax. The first vessel will enter service in 2020.
In addition, the two companies will hold options for an additional two vessels each.
The luxury ropaxes will be 229.5 m in length and 32 m beam with 534 cabins for up to 2,500 persons, and will have a speed of 23.5 knots. They will be classed by RINA.
The vessels will also feature environmentally friendly features, including LNG-ready engines.
MSC’s Pierfranceso Vago said: “For MSC Group, the order of these highly-innovative, luxury cruise ferries marks yet another milestone in our commitment to China – a country in which we opened our first office in 1998 and today we have 24 and where over the years, we built over 70 of our cargo vessels and most of our three million container boxes, all of which while investing over $10 bill in this and other manufacturing. Starting this May, we will homeport one of our largest and most modern cruise ships: the ‘MSC Splendida’.
“We are particularly pleased to see that the Chinese shipbuilding industry has made such a significant step change over recent times. It is for this reason that the time has now come for MSC Group to partner with China and its shipbuilding industry also with our ropax business. This starts with the construction of the magnificent vessels that we are announcing today (Sunday).”
Achille Onorato added: “With this signature we have taken another important step towards the creation of a ropax class of ships, something inconceivable until a short time ago, something that is avant-garde and projected towards the future.
“These two new vessels will not only be the biggest ropaxes ever built but will also have comfort and technology that will be difficult to copy and we are sure that they will represent the benchmark for the entire sector.
“Innovation has always been an objective to which the Onorato family has attached great importance, and the ships are the demonstration of how much we desire to improve and make more efficient the transport of people and cargo in the Mediterranean basin,” he said.