MSC Cruises is turning its new generation of big ships into holiday destinations as it looks to grab a larger share of the growing cruise market.


Speaking last week at the official ‘float out’ of MSC Fantasia – unfinished work on the hull meant the dock wouldn’t be filled until this week – chief executive officer Pierfrancesco Vago said the ship will pioneer a new era of stylish cruises where the vessel becomes the destination.


Existing MSC ships have all the must-have facilities such as spas, swimming pools, kids’ clubs, bars and lounges, and the newer ones have speciality restaurants, but until now the cruiseline has shunned headline-grabbing features such as rock-climbing walls and 10-pin bowling alleys.


MSC Fantasia won’t have either, but it will have a two-deck water slide, an Aqua Park with 150 fountains that light up at night, five restaurants, including a Tex Mex with an open kitchen, a Formula 1 simulator and 4D cinema.


It will also have a Yacht Club VIP area on the top deck with 99 suites offering round-the-clock butler service, a ­private pool, and observation lounge and bar with concierge.


Vago said: “MSC Fantasia represents the culmination of our efforts and positions MSC among the market leaders.”


MSC Fantasia is the biggest ship to be built by a European cruiseline. It weighs 133,500 tons and will carry 3,959 passengers in 1,637 cabins and suites when it is named in Naples on December 18.


It will be MSC Cruises’ ­second new ship this year. The 3,013-passenger MSC Poesia is to be named in Dover on April 5, ahead of an inaugural season of cruises from Venice.


It starts its sea trials on February 21 and is on schedule to be handed over to MSC Cruises at the end of March.