Actress Sophia Loren, godmother of the MSC Cruises fleet, blessed the ship virtually while Alexa Aponte-Vago, daughter of MSC Group’s founder and Executive Chairman Gianluigi Aponte, cut a ribbon to smash the Champagne, accompanied by Capt. Francesco Di Palma.
'One of the highlights of the past 20 years has been to officiate the christening of MSC Cruises' fleet, not only because the Apontes have become like family to me but also because MSC has always occupied a special place in my heart,' Loren said, adding her blessing to 'MSC Seascape, her great crew and all her passengers.'
'Just like New York, we are back stronger than ever'
In remarks at the ceremony, Perfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, cruise division of MSC Group, said: 'We have come a long way since the pandemic hit. Our industry was put in the spotlight from the start just like New York was. But, like you in the face of adversity, we came together and steered ourselves on the right course.'
Vago noted cruise lines developed COVID-19 protocols that set the standard and enabled operations to resume while many businesses remained closed.
'Just like New York, we are back stronger than ever,' he said.
Now inflation and economic uncertainty are threatening, but Vago asserted 'Consumers won’t compromise on their right to have a break,' adding that cruising offers the best value for money.
And, despite the uncertainty, MSC keeps growing. According to Vago, it has accounted for more than 50% of cruising's global capacity growth since 2019.
He also touched on cruising's economic impact in communities it visits and on MSC's 'bold actions to decarbonize,' which include its new luxury brand Explora Journeys' use of hydrogen fuel cells.
Performances by Matteo Bocelli and Ne-Yo
International singer-songwriter Matteo Bocelli performed at the festivities that were attended by more than 3,000 guests including VIPs, key travel partners and global media as well as top management at MSC Cruises and its parent MSC Group.
Bocelli was also featured at the naming ceremony of MSC World Europa in Doha, Qatar last month.
A gala dinner followed the naming, and the night was capped by a performance by Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Ne-Yo.
New year-round homeport
New York was chosen for the festivities in recognition of the city as a new year-round homeport for MSC Cruises starting in April when MSC Meraviglia begins service from Brooklyn.
MSC Seascape is scheduled to depart New York on Thursday, heading to its new PortMiami home.
Update adds Pierfrancesco Vago's remarks