Tuesday, July 27, 2004

MAMA MIA, ANOTHER ONE!: Capitalizing on reversals among competitors in Europe, MSC Cruises (backed by deep-pocket container powerhouse Mediterranean Shipping Company) has scooped up a seventh ship for its fast-growing fleet. MSC Sinfonia was purchased at auction in Barcelona last week for 220 million Euro. The ship (launched in 2002 as European Stars by First European Cruises) now caught up in bankruptcy, will be adapted to the acquiring line’s Italian style before starting seven-night Mediterranean cruises next March. That gives North Americans another option for premium cruising with Italian flair. The 1,566-passenger ship, built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in France in 2002, joins MSC Opera, inaugurated June 26 in Genoa; MSC Armonia, purchased in April 2004; MSC Lirica, launched in April 2003; as well as MSC Melody, MSC Monterey, and MSC Rhapsody. Orders at Chantiers de l’Atlantique will increase the fleet to nine by 2007, with possibility for a tenth. The company also is in talks with Fincantieri for building two other ships. The line, with North American headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, offers 40 itineraries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South America and South Africa.

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