MSC Cruises received its flagship MSC Fantasia, dubbed "the most beautiful ship in the world," today at a hand-over ceremony at the STX France shipyard in St Nazaire, France.
At the tender age of four, the godmother at the flag ceremony was Asia Aponte, granddaughter of MSC Crociere owner Gianluigi Aponte. MSC Crociere's CEO Pierfrancesco Vago, and Jacques Hardelay, General Manager of the shipyard, were also present.
The official handover of the flagship from the shipyard to MSC Cruises saw the lowering of the French flag and the flag of STX France, and the raising of the MSC Cruises flag, along with the flags of Italy and Panama.
At the ceremony, Mr Vago said, "I am particularly proud to launch this new ship, which is a revolution in the cruising world, due to the technologically advanced systems on board. Not only does MSC Fantasia stand out for her technical innovations but also for her environmentally friendly systems and structure."
"This ship will capture the imagination of every single guest who comes onboard, as she is a destination in herself and so beautifully designed. She features the stunning MSC Yacht Club, which introduces a new concept in luxury sailing, and our signature MSC Aurea Spa, for the ultimate in well-being," he said.
"With so much choice of activities and entertainment on board this visually stunning ship, I am sure you will agree MSC Fantasia truly is the most beautiful ship in the world," Mr Vago added.
The largest ship in the fleet with a total passenger capacity of 3,959, MSC Fantasia introduces a new class of cruising with MSC Yacht Club, a luxury area with 24-hour butler and concierge service.
MSC Fantasia is the sixth new build for MSC Cruises from STX France. Her sister ship MSC Splendida will join the fleet in July 2009, to be followed by three more ships - MSC Magnifica, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa - by 2012, making MSC Cruises the fastest-growing and most modern fleet in the world.
Following the flag ceremony, MSC Fantasia sails to Italy via Lisbon, Gibraltar, Alicante, Barcelona and Marseilles, to reach Naples, where she will be christened on December 18. After her inaugural cruise, she will be based in Genoa. sailing the Mediterranean year-round.