MSC Cruises received its MSC Fantasia at a hand-over ceremony at the STX France shipyard in St Nazaire, France earlier this week.

The official handover to MSC Cruises saw the lowering of the French flag and the raising of the MSC Cruises flag.

This is the largest ship in the fleet with a total passenger capacity of 3,959 and services including a luxury area with 24-hour butler and concierge service.

Her sister ship MSC Splendida will join the fleet in July 2009, to be followed by three further ships – MSC Magnifica, MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa – by 2012.

MSC Cruises’s chief executive Pierfrancesco 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.

“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.

MSC Fantasia sails to Italy to reach Naples, where she will be christened on 18 December.

L-R: Mr Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO, MSC Cruises; Capt. Giuliano Bossi; 
Mr Gianluigi Aponte, owner, MSC Cruises;
Mr Jacques Hardelay, general manager, STX France;
Mr Erminio Eschena, general manager, MSC France

Travel Weekly will be at the ceremony in Naples. Go to for coverage of the event.