(4:30 p.m. EST) -- MSC Cruises has announced it has taken delivery of its newest cruise ship, MSC Virtuosa, at a small, private ceremony at the Chantiers de l'Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.
The ceremony was attended by MSC Cruises chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, his wife and children, and other representatives from the MSC Cruises newbuild team and executives and workers from Chantiers de l'Atlantique.
MSC Virtuosa becomes the 18th ship in the growing European-based cruise line's fleet, and it will be the second of two ships MSC plans to take delivery of this year. MSC Seashore, a slightly modified fleetmate to MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview, will debut this summer and is scheduled to arrive at PortMiami in November.
A sister-ship to MSC's popular MSC Grandiosa, MSC Virtuosa will offer a 331-foot promenade running down the interior of the vessel that is topped by one of the longest LED sky domes at sea. The two-story space houses a number of shops and diversions for passengers to enjoy and is themed after the Mediterranean.
MSC Virtuosa will begin operations April 16 in the Mediterranean before moving to offer cruises throughout Northern Europe. The ship's departures from Kiel, Germany, are scheduled to begin May 8, 2021.
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"We remain committed to building each time some of the most innovative ships in the world when it comes to their environmental performance, featuring nothing but the most advanced available technology at sea," MSC's Vago said.
The ship also offers a series of environmental improvements and initiatives, including ship-to-shore power connectivity; an underwater management noise system to minimize acoustic sound impact; hybrid exhaust cleaning systems; and extensive wastewater treatment systems.
MSC Virtuosa's sister-ship, MSC Grandiosa, successfully spearheaded MSC Cruises restart efforts in the Mediterranean last summer.
To-date, the company estimates nearly 40,000 passengers have set sail under MSC's comprehensive new health and safety protocols, known as the Blue Ribbon Health and Safety Taskforce.