In time-honoured maritime tradition, a ceremony was held this morning at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, during which two commemorative coins were welded to MSC Preziosa’s mast radar, marking a significant construction milestone.

Following the termination of the agreement with the original owner, earlier this year MSC Cruises signed a contract to take over the 140,000-ton cruise ship. Renamed MSC Preziosa, she will be the 13th addition to the MSC Cruises’ fleet, as well as the precious fourth ship in the series of Fantasia class ships.

"I am delighted to celebrate this important milestone in the construction of MSC Preziosa, the beautiful ship who will complete our celebrated Fantasia class. She will raise our total capacity to over 40,000 berths and, joining her sister ships MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida and MSC Divina, will allow us to offer the unparalleled features of this new generation of ship all over the world,” said MSC Cruises CEO Pierfrancesco Vago. ”While marking this occasion, I am also glad to officially announce that MSC Preziosa will be christened on 23 March in Genoa, Italy, one of the our most visited and best loved destinations, and her first homeport for 2013."

Laurent Castaing, General Manager of STX France, added, "I would like to take the opportunity of this new ceremony to congratulate both the MSC Cruises and STX teams for their joint commitment. Some impressive shipbuilding figures illustrate the ambition which is at the heart of the Fantasia class project: 30,000 tonnes of steel, 2,000 km of cables, 1751 passenger cabins and, at the present moment, 1,000 people working every day on MSC Preziosa.  It is STX's ambition to support MSC to become the European leader in the cruise market. "

The honour of presenting the coins fell to MSC Cruises Head of Onboard Marketing Daniela Picco, who served as MSC godmother during the ceremony. She was joined by Jeannette Le Queau from STX France, who works closely with the MSC team and has been involved in the MSC story since the first new build orders arrived at Saint-Nazaire just under ten years ago.

The gold coin from STX bears the well-known image of Louis Oscar Roty’s La Semeuse, a sower moving forward with her bag of grain, which was depicted on French coins until the arrival of the euro. MSC’s coin bears the company logo on one side and the cross of Genoa’s ancient coins on the other.

Genoa was an obvious choice to celebrate the new ship's arrival. The city has been an MSC Cruises homeport since the start of the company’s expansion programme in 2003 and has shown a keen understanding of the major economic impact that the cruise sector, and MSC in particular, brings to its port and the region.

Next year MSC will be deploying nine ships from the port and, over the course of the year, nearly 930, 000 passengers will embark, disembark or transit during a total of over 200 calls.

MSC Cruises is also heavily investing in the city. The MSC Group’s catering subsidiary MSC Italcatering headquarters are based in Genoa, and the group is also building the new “Towers of San Benigno” office block, a building that will bring all of MSC’s different departments active in the city under one roof, modifying the city skyline forever.

MSC Preziosa is 333 metres long, 38 metres wide, and weighs 140,000 tonnes. The 4,345 guest luxury cruise ship is able to travel up to 23 knots, offering smooth cruising in sumptuous surroundings. Her elegant design is, once again, the work of award-winning naval architects De Jorio Design International.