Monday, November 8, 2010

Three's A Charm: MSC Divina

If you think writing cruise travel guidebooks is easy, think again. There's a lot of research involved and cruise lines don't always make it easy. Sure, they are very cooperative, but now and then I get thrown a curve when itineraries change, ships are sold, and now, MSC Cruises has named, renamed, and renamed the next ship in the Fantasia-class for the third time.

First it was planned that the ship would be MSC Favolosa, but Italian rival Costa Cruises beat them to the punch by announcing their new Costa Favolosa, which would launch before the MSC ship. Anticipating the confusion that might cause, MSC decided to name the new Fantasia-class sister MSC Fantastica. That sounded fantastic until MSC Cruises' favorite godmother Sophia Loren entered the picture. In a conversation with her friend Gianluigi Aponte, who coincidentally owns MSC Cruises, Ms. Loren expressed a desire to have a ship named after herself.

Voila! The new ship's name, not yet written in stone, or on the coin to be welded on the keel, was changed to MSC Divina. At 140,000 tons, the divine ship will be MSC Cruises’ largest to date with 3,502 lower berths. It will feature MSC's Yacht Club concept that offers a concierge, private swimming pool, solarium, lounge, butler service, and a dedicated spa entrance for nearly 100 balcony cabins. We understand there will be numerous as yet unnamed features, including an aft infinity pool and two more elevators than other Fantasia-class ships when she launches in summer 2012.

While not exactly the "MSC Sophia," Mr. Aponte explained that "a divine experience gives you memories that will last forever." We're sure Ms. Loren agrees and, after all what's in a name? It's sure to be a "Sophia" of a ship.

That's the second ship in the Fantasia-class, MSC Splendida pictured above

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