PORT ST. MAARTEN – The cruise ship MSC Meraviglia made its inaugural call on Friday, November 1st – the second inaugural call for the 2019-2020 cruise season – and was welcomed by caretaker Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Hon. Stuart Johnson and Port St. Maarten Supervisory Board of Directors and Management. Also present were representatives from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and ship agent representatives Delisle Walwyn. The traditional plaque and welcome pleasantries were exchanged. The first inaugural call for the season was on October 20 by Viking Sun.
MSC Meraviglia Captain S. Bastinelli told dignitaries that they had a good three-day sail to the destination from the U.S. and that passengers were having a wonderful time and they were happy to be exploring the destination.
“Once again Port St. Maarten and the destination have been able to welcome the sixth largest cruise ship in the world and offer its guests and crew amazing experiences during their visit to the destination,” Minister Johnson said on Sunday.
Minister Johnson added, “MSC Cruises is one of our cruise partners, and the Government and the port will continue to work diligently to continue to grow our cruise numbers for 2019-2020 season and beyond as more cruise vessels come online.”
“It remains imperative we do our utmost to continue to ensure we enhance our port facilities and our destination experience. We also must continue to provide genuine hospitality to all our guests arriving on our beloved island,” Minister Johnson concluded.
The MSC Meraviglia was introduced in June 2017 and is the lead ship of MSC’s new ‘Vista Project’ vessels, the Meraviglia-class. The cruise ship commenced its first Caribbean sailing on October 28 and is the first in the cruise line’s Meraviglia class of vessels. The vessel departed New York and arrived at the destination after three-days at sea and will be homeporting out of Miami.
Meraviglia is also the largest cruise ship of MSC Cruises sailing from the United States. The vessel was built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, by STX France.
“The inaugural call of MSC Meraviglia was another significant occasion and an important milestone for cruise tourism. We express our gratitude and appreciation to our cruise partners as we continue to work together to bring our cruise tourism to new heights,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday.
MSC Meraviglia has a gross tonnage of 171,598 tons; has 15 passenger decks; 1,036 feet long, and a beam of 141 feet. The ship carries over 5,500 passengers and has approximately 1600 crew.
MSC Meraviglia will return to Northern Europe for summer 2020 following its inaugural season out of Port Miami before heading back to the U.S. and the Caribbean in October 2020.
MSC Cruises, is a Swiss-based and is considered the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line. The company, which grew by 800% since 2004, carried two million guests in 2017 and reported strong financial results with a turnover of $2.2 billion.
MSC Cruises has deep Mediterranean roots employing over 23,700 staff globally and selling cruise vacations in 70 countries around the world.
MSC Cruises’ 16 ships boast a host of cutting-edge innovations and the latest technologies, and its global fleet is one of the youngest at sea. Under its investment plan worth €11.6 billion, the fleet is set to expand to 25 mega-cruise ships by 2027. MSC Cruises is the first global cruise line brand to develop an investment plan of such length and magnitude, according to company information.
MSC Cruises is the cruise line with the highest passenger capacity on order. An additional ten cruise ships are due to join its’ fleet by 2027. In addition to the upcoming four Meraviglia and two Seaside ships, these will include four World Class vessels. With 205,000 GT and capacity for 6,761 guests, this new class of cruise ships will bring a new generation of LNG-powered engines that will strongly minimize their environmental footprint.
MSC Cruises is the brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa, sailing year-round in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Seasonal itineraries cover northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, South America, southern Africa, China and Abu Dhabi, Dubai and India.
PHOTO CUTLINE: Minister of Tourism Hon. Stuart Johnson along with Port St. Maarten Supervisory Board of Directors and Management, representatives from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and ship agent Delisle Walwyn.