Laurent Castaing, general manager of the builder, ordered the shipyard’s and French flag to be lowered to be replaced by the MSC Cruises and Maltese flag, as the ship is registered in Valletta.
MSC Group executive chairman Gianluigi Aponte, Christelle Morancais, president of the regional council of Pays de la Loire, Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman and Captain Rafaelle Pontecorvo were also present for the official handover ceremony watched by shipyard representatives, MSC employees from around the globe, financiers, suppliers and media.
In line with tradition a member of the Aponte family acted as godmother for this handover stage ahead of the naming of MSC Bellissima in Southampton on Saturday evening.
Aponte family tradition
Taking over the ownership of the ship, the 14th newbuild constructed by Chantiers de l’Atlantique for MSC Cruises, was Aponte’s daughter-in-law Ela Aponte, wife of son Diego who heads up the family’s container division. Ela was accompanied to the ribbon cutting ceremony by their young son Oscar.
Earlier in the day the coin laying ceremony for MSC Virtuosa took place. The second Meraviglia=Plus vessel will be delivere din 2020.
Castaing spoke of the close ties between the French yard and MSC and thanked the Geneva-HQ’d company ‘for helping us to bounce back after dfficult times’. Following in Bellissima’s footstep are MSC Grandiosa the first Meraviglia Plus series and MSC Virtuosa. He called the forward orderbook for MSC with nine ships through to 2027, as ‘unprecedented in our history’.
Morancais also thanked MSC for its continued support of the yard creating a economic gain for the yard and the entire region and at a national level also.