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Fincantieri's Palermo yard hands over the 'stretched' MSC Armonia

MSC Armonia - larger, longer, with more capacity and new features
Fincantieri's Palermo shipyard handed over the enlarged and refurbished MSC Armonia, first in MSC Cruises' Renaissance Program, a nearly €200m investment to update its four Lirica-class ships.

MSC Armonia departed the Palermo facility Monday after just over 10 weeks. It had arrived Aug. 31.

The yard inserted a pre-built midsection with additional cabins, and completed new entertainment spaces and technological enhancements. The boutiques were enlarged and a new perfumery with displays of leading brands was added.

MSC Armonia is en route Genoa where it will embark passengers for a 10-day inaugural cruise to the Canary Islands.

Announced in December 2013, the Renaissance Program will also update MSC Lirica, MSC Sinfonia and MSC Opera by the end of next year.

The four Lirica-class ships were built between 2003 and 2005 at STX France in Saint-Nazaire. They are being transformed from 251 meters to 275 meters, and gross tonnage is going from 60,000 to 65,000. Passenger capacity will rise from 2,069 to 2,680.

In addition to the new passenger cabins, each ship is gaining 59 crew cabins.

MSC Sinfonia is scheduled to undergo its transformation Jan. 12 to March 16, MSC Opera May 2 to July 4 and MSC Lirica Aug. 31 to Nov. 9.