Princess and Fincantieri Sign Contracts For Two Ships

Sky Princess at Fincantieri

Princess Cruises and Fincantieri announced today the signing of the final contracts for the construction of two next-generation LNG-fueled 175,000-ton cruise ships, which will be the largest ships ever built so far in Italy, with deliveries scheduled in Monfalcone in late 2023 and in spring 2025.

This announcement follows the initial signing of a memorandum of agreement between the two parties in July 2018.

The vessels will each accommodate approximately 4,300 guests and will be based on next-generation platform design, being the first Princess Cruises ships to be dual-fuel powered primarily by LNG, Princess said.

“Princess Cruises continues to grow globally — adding new ships to our fleet built by our long-time trusted shipbuilding partner, Fincantieri, who brings decades of expertise to these next-generation cruise ships,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises President. “Even more exciting is that these two ships are being designed to include our MedallionClass platform, powered by OceanMedallion, the most advanced wearable device available within the global hospitality industry.”

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, commented on the announcement: “This result proves, once again, the trust we receive from the market, which allows us to look to the future with ambition. It honours our great work focused on innovation thanks to which we have been able to offer to the client a record-breaking proposal not only in terms of size. Besides, we firmly believe that a new class of Princess Cruises’ ships, one of Carnival Group’s top brands, can stem from this promising project. In fact, for Princess Cruises, we have received orders for 21 ships, another unprecedented result in this industry.”

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Princess Cruises orders two low-emission ships

Princess Cruises is joining UK sister company P&O Cruises in agreeing to build two large new generation ships.

The new 4,300-passenger vessels will be Princess Cruises’ first to be dual-fuel powered – primarily by Liquefied Natural Gas to cut air emissions and marine gas oil.

The 175,000 gross ton new builds are due to be delivered in late 2023 and spring 2025.

The ships will be based on a next-generation platform “designed to further enhance an already world-class holiday experience”.

They will be the largest by capacity in the US line’s fleet and be built at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

The agreement for Princess Cruises’ next-generation ships represents parent company Carnival Corporation’s 10th and 11th LNG-powered vessels.

Specification details for the ship design, along with anticipated features and amenities of this new platform design for Princess Cruises, will be shared in the future, according to the company.

The line’s president, Jan Swartz, said: “This revolutionary platform for next-generation, LNG-powered cruise ships will introduce innovative design and leisure experiences driven by the future holiday and lifestyle trends of our guests – further evolving the already best-in-class Princess Cruises experience we deliver today.

“We look forward to collaborating with Fincantieri to bring our vision for this next-generation premium cruise ship into service.”

Fincantieri chief executive Giuseppe Bono added: “We are proud to extend our long-established partnership with Princess Cruises, a brand we have been tied to since our return to the cruise shipbuilding industry in 1990.

“After so many years, we are ready to enter, together, a new era of this industry, increasingly aimed at reducing even more of our environmental impact.

“We proudly do this with an all-time record project, both in terms of size and technology. We believe that there are no more significant milestones than these to reaffirm our market-leading position.

“This builds upon the solid partnership between our country and Carnival Corporation – the largest foreign investor in Italy – while at the same time building upon our technological strength and increasing employment.”

Princess Cruises has three new Royal-class ships on order with Fincantieri, including its next new build, Sky Princess, which is due for delivery in October 2019. The two other Royal-class ships are planned to enter service in 2020 and 2022.

MSC Seaside offers sights, experiences unlike any other

T1204SEASIDE5_TS_HR.jpgMSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato in the two-story Top Sail Lounge, part of the MSC Yacht Club luxury enclave on MSC Seaside. Photo Credit: Tom StieghorstONBOARD THE MSC SEASIDE — When executives at MSC Cruises went looking for a design completely different from any other in the industry, they found it gathering dust in a desk drawer at the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

The line’s newest ship, the MSC Seaside, was conceived 12 years ago by a visionary Fincantieri engineer, but it languished because no cruise line wanted it, according to MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato.

To start with, the ship’s funnel was in the middle, not the back. That alone spooked buyers worried that soot would rain down on sunbathers gathered around the Deck 16 swimming pool behind it.

MSC likens the aft design to a Miami Beach condo. The suites there overlook a broad pool area on Deck 8. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
MSC likens the aft design to a Miami Beach condo. The suites there overlook a broad pool area on Deck 8. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

The design had an oddly narrowed tower of cabins in the back, opening space for a broad, uncovered promenade on Deck 8 and an expansive platform at the very aft where another pool was placed. A pair of glass-walled elevators connected the two pool decks.

When Onorato saw the plans, he knew he’d found something that wouldn’t be mistaken for any other cruise ship afloat.

“This is what we wanted,” Onorato said.

I had a chance to experience the nearly completed Seaside on a short cruise from Fincantieri’s yard in Monfalcone, Italy, to Trieste, about 20 minutes away. I came away thinking that passengers are going to want to try this ship, which is just the response MSC is seeking in its ongoing bid for recognition in North America.

Start with that rear profile, which MSC likens to a Miami Beach condo. It wastes space extravagantly, but it looks very cool. And from my cabin on Deck 15, I could descend to poolside in about 30 seconds.

MSC intends to sail the Seaside in the Caribbean from Miami year-round starting on Dec. 23. The ship has what seems like acres of open space on the top deck, ideal for sun-searchers from cold climates.

Onorato said new exhaust scrubber technologies solve the soot problem. There’s a giant LED screen for videos. And the pool on Deck 16 can be covered at night, creating a dance space beneath the tropical stars.

The midship funnel on the Seaside is the starting point for one of the ship’s neatest features, a 344-foot zip line that threads riders through two sets of giant hoops before ending on an aft platform.

The four-story atrium features stairs with transparent steps embedded with Swarovski crystals and tiny lights. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
The four-story atrium features stairs with transparent steps embedded with Swarovski crystals and tiny lights. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

Several waterslides also start on the funnel structure, including one in which passengers ride a board that transmits electronic data, turning it into an interactive video game.

Inside, the design of the Seaside carries on some of the themes of MSC’s first year-round North American ship, the MSC Divina. The Seaside has lots of shiny, sparkly metallic surfaces and an assertively neutral colour palette consisting mainly of white, black, grey and beige, with maroon in the carpets.

The levels of a four-story open atrium are linked by stairs that feature transparent steps embedded with tiny white lights and Swarovski crystals. Large LED screens with changing displays adorn the main wall of the atrium.

But the Seaside differs from the Divina, too.

The Seaside’s MSC Yacht Club luxury enclave is larger and, unlike on Divina, it includes a restaurant. The two-story Top Sail Lounge has magnificent forward views. (If you’re not staying in the Yacht Club, the Seaside has no public views from the bow).

The Deck 16 pool can be covered at night to turn it into a dance floor. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
The Deck 16 pool can be covered at night to turn it into a dance floor. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

There’s a trio of speciality restaurants (seafood, steak and Asian) on Deck 16, which creates a foodie destination, according to Onorato. The theatre is smaller, but there will be more frequent shows, giving diners the flexibility to eat when they want and still catch the entertainment.

And then there’s that promenade, which brings cruisers as close to the water as they’re likely to get on a 4,138-passenger vessel.

Inside the ship, one sure-to-be-talked-about feature is the wall of liquid chocolate in the Venchi 1878 Chocolate Bar, which sends a sweet fragrance of chocolate wafting through several decks around it.

Although it is not entirely original, I liked the two-lane, full-size bowling alley in the arcade on Deck 7. I also enjoyed the Garage Club, a ’50s car-themed room that is a teen club by day and a bar at night.

One thing yet to be determined on the Seaside is whether MSC has tailored the food and service to American sensibilities. Onorato said it has. He said past perceptions of indifferent service and Euro-centric foods are the legacy of a time when the North American market was an afterthought for Geneva-based MSC.

That changed several years ago, Onorato said, and the Seaside will reflect all that MSC has learned about appealing to North American passengers. The reality, he said, is that improvements have been made and should be evident onboard the Seaside.

“Obviously, it takes time for those improvements to be fully acknowledged by everyone,” he said.