In keeping with tradition, a momentous floating out ceremony took place Sunday at the Aker Yards in St. Nazaire, France as, MSC Splendida, the newest addition to the MSC Cruises fleet, was floated out. The ship was accompanied by a fleet of eight tugboats.

At the end of the hour-long floating out ceremony in which she travelled about half a mile, this giant of the sea reached the dock where she will remain until her construction has been completed.

MSC Splendida and sister ship MSC Fantasia are the two largest ships to be built by a European ship owner. Both will be 133,500 tons. Each will have 1,637 cabins able to accommodate 3,274 passengers (on double basis) and 290,000 square feet of public areas including a theatre with seating for 1,649 plus the well-being center - AUREA SPA, which covers 17,384 square feet. Additionally these ships will have 4 restaurants and 2 buffet areas, 4 pools, 12 hydro massage pools, Sports Bar, Jazz Bar, shops, casino, disco, FORMULA 1 simulator, 4D interactive cinema, Squash Court and a Children’s and Teenager’s Area of 4,305 square feet with a pool, waterslide and dedicated Teenagers’ disco.

These two ships will herald a new era for MSC Cruises by introducing MSC Yacht Club, a VIP area with 99 elegant suites, dedicated butlers and communal spaces furnished to the highest standards. While the countdown to MSC Fantasia’s launch has already started (christening is Naples, Dec.18, 2008), MSC Splendida will be christened in Barcelona during the summer of 2009.

“The floating out ceremony for MSC Splendida confirms our commitment to increasing our fleet – this is the fourth time we have visited Saint Nazaire in 2008,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO for MSC Cruises. “MSC Splendida is the sister ship to MSC Fantasia, which is joining the fleet in six months time. Then six months later her twin, MSC Splendida, will also join the fleet. These two ships will be the most beautiful in the world. They are the first in the fleet to offer an exclusive VIP area, the MSC Yacht Club, plus an elegant well-being center known as the AUREA SPA. Both ships will be at the forefront of environmental protection, including an innovative water treatment process and energy efficient technology. MSC Splendida, just like her twin, represents the fulfilment of a product that has a year-round appeal.”

"Three MSC Cruises ships are currently under construction at Aker Yards, Saint-Nazaire. These vessels are the concrete expression of about 10 years of partnership between both our companies,” added Jacques Hardelay, Managing Director of Aker Yards France. “MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida gather the state-of-the-art equipment in terms of technologies, aestheticism and environmental concerns. The men and women of Aker Yards are proud to build these ships which will fly the MSC Cruises flag aloft on the world's oceans.”