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By John Pond

Not a well known name in Australia, but MSC boasts some of the finest ships at sea and is a household word in Europe.  Said to be the 3rd largest shipping line, it offers many 5 star features at 4 star prices. Children travel free in adult cabin.

In a couple of weeks I will be sailing on my second MSC cruise, when I join MSC Orchestra and sail from Sydney to Perth on a segment of a cruise from Dubai to Perth.

Here is a story I find fascinating. We all know about stretched limos, but stretched ships?

MSC Cruises’ €200m Renaissance Programme will renew and enlarge four ships of its 12-strong fleet.

Over a period of 10 weeks, MSC Sinfonia will undergo the same intensive work schedule as her sister ship, MSC Armonia, when Fincantieri’s world-class marine engineers will carefully bisect MSC Sinfonia’s hull, after which the two halves of the ships will be slowly drawn apart. The shipyard will insert a prebuilt 2,200GT, 24-metre midsection containing 193 extra cabins. Then they will refit and renew much of the ship’s interior, bringing an enhanced sense of comfort and space.

Once the work is complete and sea trials completed, the larger, smarter MSC Sinfonia will weigh anchor from the shipyard headed for Genoa, from where she’ll begin for her maiden cruise to Ajaccio, Barcelona and Marseille.

MSC Sinfonia will feature new purpose-built areas for children created in partnership with Chicco® and LEGO®,  and a new Baby Club, Mini Club, Young Club and Teens Club. MSC Cruises has also reimagined the onboard dining experiences, keeping the buffet open 20 hours per day and installing fresh new dining spaces, a brand new lounge and an extended restaurant.

The ship’s MSC Aurea Spa will also be enriched with additional massage areas, and a new outdoor spray park will be added on deck 13 – an exciting series of playful water features and jets.

MSC Cruises currently carries roughly 40,000 guests per day, but by 2022 will double its capacity to 80,000 guests a day – 3.4 million per year – once the Renaissance Programme is completed and the last of seven planned ships is delivered.

MSC Cruises is the market leader in the Mediterranean, South Africa and Brazil, sailing year-round in the Mediterranean. Its seasonal itineraries cover northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and French Antilles, South America, southern Africa, as well as the Emirates and Oman.

MSC Cruises feels a deep responsibility for the environments in which it operates, and was the first company ever to earn the Bureau Veritas “7 Golden Pearls” for superior management and environmental stewardship.

In 2009, MSC began an enduring partnership with UNICEF to support various programmes assisting children worldwide. So far, MSC has collected more than €3m in voluntary guest donations.

MSC Cruises was born in the Mediterranean, and draws inspiration from this heritage to create  a unique experience for holidaymakers worldwide. Its fleet comprises 12 modern ships: MSC Preziosa; MSC Divina; MSC Splendida; MSC Fantasia; MSC Magnifica; MSC Poesia; MSC Orchestra; MSC Musica; MSC Sinfonia; MSC Armonia; MSC Opera and MSC Lirica.

Photo: New section about to be welded in place

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