Speaking from the yard in Saint-Nazaire, France on Tuesday, Young said of MSC Cruises’ first LNG-powered vessel entering service later this year, ‘The MSC Meraviglia class is “inside centric,” the Seaside class is more outside focussed for the finer weather climates, and the World class is a combination of the two.’
Among the highlights discussed during a tour of the vessel were:
0.7m working hours have gone into creating MSC World Europa’s 2,626 cabins, of which there are seven new categories. Several enhancements have been made to the Aurea class cabin in particular designed to create more space, with the boldest being the introduction of a vertical sliding window in place of a balcony. The 170 Aurea class cabins that can be found onboard the ship ‘allow a lot more stuff to fit into a smaller space,’ with extra storage space made to have an open feel. Small open shelves replace draws with the extra visibility minimising the risk of passengers leaving possessions onboard, while being easier to clean.
The category of Interior Balcony – a ‘favourite’ of the VP’s – could provide ‘a better view than those facing the other side,’ giving passengers sweeping views of the external promenade.
The external Europa Promenade comprises multiple LED palms with adjustable light intensity that have their own circuit every 10cm, therefore allowing patterns to be projected for light shows and other entertainment. They serve to ‘activate the whole area for us,’ explained Young. ‘I know the work that's gone into this, it's not a simple process - the dry slide, the connections at the top, all the cabins that look into the promenade.’ Artificial plants will line the walls of the 104-metre-long stretch.
Originally showcased onboard the line’s Meraviglia class ships, indoor promenade The Galleria has been extended to MSC World Europa, but with a twist. ‘This is even better, it's taken to the next level,’ observes Young, ‘The MSC Meraviglia class was very straight. Everything is going on here, which makes it dynamic and interesting.’ Spanning three decks and containing a 300 sq mtr LED screen, Young says it is the result of ‘going into overdrive’ with the ship’s architects. ‘It's very organic and as you walk through, you think you're in a three-deck area, but after looking at the screen and what the content is above, you'll think you could be anywhere.'
MSC Yacht Club
MSC World Europa is home to the fleet’s largest MSC Yacht Club complete with a reimagined sundeck. ‘It is the first time we’ve had a dual deck in the MSC Yacht Club,’ offers Young. ‘It’s double sided with a huge bar and a grill area, and there is a big sweeping staircase up to the sundeck.’ Beneath the Yacht Club is a restaurant, adding to the ‘layering’ effect.
‘If you look at the MSC Yacht Club area in particular, this has been personally created by our chairman Pierfrancesco Vago and Madame aponte' [Raphaela Aponte, wife of MSC’s founder Gianluigi Aponte].
She’s choosing all of the materials, fabrics, colours, artwork or planting. Just before the ship is delivered, she'll spend a huge amount of time in the shipyard living onboard the ship..checking and making sure it is exactly what she wants.’
Entertainment & indoor/outdoor spaces
‘A huge amount of time’ went into creating The Panorama Lounge located at the aft of the ship,’ whose chandeliers have a special function that is yet to be revealed. ‘We came up with a vision of what we can do there and we've developed shows around that. Unfortunately, we weren't early in the process, we're a little bit late… but we've been able to realize it and it'll be quite an amazing feat.’ Young also hinted at the viewing platforms located on most decks having greater prominence onboard future MSC Cruises’ vessels, describing the concept as ‘something amazing.’
Spanning two decks, Luna Park Arena is filled with retractable seating that will have a ‘massive, very high definition screen at the front so we can do movies in there or we can push the seats back to create a nightclub.’ Continued Young, ‘We can have speakers, small shows, Drone Academy for kids. It's a multifunctional space, which is right next to the food and beverage contingent. It’s a great area that will be fully utilised all day because there's just so many options for it.’
Seven swimming pools and 13 whirlpools of various sizes, indoor and outdoor, can also be found onboard. A macrodome roof towers over the spa swimming pool to suit sailings in all climates, and two pools can be found in the adult-only Zen area. Two pools merging into one large lap pool for use in port is an idea currently being explored by the cruise line, revealed Young.
In contrast, the two-deck-high Sportplex is ‘a great area for kids’ where activities are to include basketball, soccer and bumper cars, alongside food and beverage. ‘It's near the kid’s club,’ states Young, ‘so that they [children] can move within the area and not have to go too far.’ The ship has the largest children’s area in the MSC Cruises fleet.
The cruise line is now looking at introducing more technology within its entertainment settings, with Young promising ‘more things to come.’ He said, ‘We're looking at things that we could potentially put on this ship and the next one. There's just so much out there and we're busy trying to make it as innovative as possible, but also user friendly.’
Familiar venue, Masters of the Sea Pub, will be split across two decks and brew craft beer specially on board for the first time. In Young’s view, ‘the super cool and interesting’ venue might be ‘a little bit cliche’ for Brits, but is set to entice other nationalities. Upstairs seating, a pool table and a large retractable screen can be found inside the classic drinking spot.
A vast open space at the end of the casino will be filled with LED floor tiles and have capability for projections to be displayed around the venue.
Food and beverage
There are 20 bars and cafes onboard the ship, and four main dining restaurants. According to MSC Cruises’ VP food and beverage, Jacques Van Staden, the two main buffet areas are located on decks 18 and 19, with the latter offering additional speciality options.
He highlighted new speciality restuarants, Chef’s Garden Kitchen which produces microgreens, and seafood restaurant La Pescaderia.
Kaito Sushi Bar is ‘much larger’ onboard the ship compared with previous ships within the fleet, added the f&b VP.
Engineering, digitisation and challenges
1.3m working hours were involved in designing and engineering the 6,762-passenger ship over the course of 25 months, Doyer explained, with fabrication taking 15 months. Made up of 700 panels and 59 super blocks, 38,000t of steel comprising 350,000 steel parts has been used in its production. Throughout the process, ‘one single centralised digital platform was used…with less and less plans printed on paper – it is quite unique,’ he said.
‘Digital is where we see the future,’ responded Young, outlining the cruise line’s new ‘CGI department’ – one that with the help of the shipyard can create 3D ship models, resulting in 98-99% accuracy of the mock ups which follow. ‘We can put furniture in, materials, colours and then check to make sure it's all correct. If it's not correct, we can fix it.'
He went on, 'With the supply chain issues that we have throughout the world – that the yards are experiencing and we're experiencing, as well - you don't get two or three chances, you get one chance so it's really important we get it right and spend time doing it properly. That's what we're in the final throes of with MSC World Europa at the moment.’
The line’s new build and delivery programme starts with MSC World Europa in October, followed by Seascape in November. The first ship in the line’s luxury Explora Journeys brand, Explora I, is due in mid-May 2023 and MSC Euribia is scheduled for delivery at the end of next May. ‘We'll be delivering four ships in a seven-month period, which is great,’ says Young. ‘we’re working around the clock.'