As reported by Cruise Industry News last week, MSC Cruises has confirmed the MSC Preziosa, and added that it has "completed" the Fantasia class, adding fire to rumors that a ship order based on a new prototype may be coming.

MSC Cruises continues its rapid expansion with the announcement that the company has finalized negotiations with STX France and signed a contract to take over a 140,000 ton cruise ship following the termination of the agreement with the original owner.

The new ship is named MSC Preziosa and will become the 13th addition to the MSC Cruises’ fleet, as well as the precious fourth ship in the series of fantasia-class ships, which include MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida and the long-awaited MSC Divina. MSC Preziosa is in fact the sister ship of MSC Divina, who is currently having her final touches applied in the STX ship yard in St Nazaire, France, before her christening in May 2012.

“The new ship represents an investment of 550 million euros and will be delivered at the end of March 2013. Negotiations with STX France have lasted over nine months; a significant but understandable period of time considering the importance of the investment and the unexpected nature of the takeover,” said Mr Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO MSC Cruises.

“When MSC Preziosa is delivered we will have four ships of every class, giving us a total capacity of over 40,000 berths and the strength to sail in all seas. MSC Preziosa herself will sail the Mediterranean, exploring the beauty of Greek Islands, which represents the highlight of European cruising.”

“STX France is delighted with this successful outcome after months of negotiations. The length of time necessary to settle them is the perfect illustration of the challenges faced by the cruise industry in terms of financing, which impact our industry directly. It’s the new Achilles’ heel, after competitiveness, on which our efforts are now focused,” said Laurent Castaing, STX France General Manager. “In this context, the integration of X32 into the prestigious MSC Cruise’s fleet is a relief and a real pleasure for STX.”

MSC Preziosa’s total construction is 45% complete, and her mechanical zones are 70% complete. The best, however, is yet to come! MSC Cruises will soon begin the fitting and furnishing of the 333 metre long, 38 metre wide ship and work its unique Mediterranean magic on turning MSC Preziosa into a stylish masterpiece and a perfect mix of advanced technology, elegance and exclusive services.