MSC Preziosa started to visit northern Europe from 2017 onwards. At the 15th of september of 2017 she visited Amsterdam. With her tonnage measurement of 139.072, she is the largest ship that has visited the Dutch capital to date.
It was around 2009 that the Lybian state wanted to get its share in the booming Mediterranean cruise trade. The state-owned General National Maritime Transport Corporation (GNMTC) was going to be the operating company, headed by Hannibal Gadaffi, the son of the country's leader Muammar Gadaffi. The GNMTC untill then was a company specialized in gas- and oitankers and they operated a fleet of 24 of those ships. GNMTC would become the first Arab company owning a cruiseship. On short notice, the company firstly wanted to charter a ship to start quickly with the new venture, but it seemed more difficult then they had hoped for. With money being no problem for the Gadaffi family, the other option was to built a new ship from scratch so they ordered a ship from the STX France Yards at Saint-Nazaire in France. The ship was of the same platform as the Fantasia-class that was at the time being built for MSC Cruises at the same wharf. It was meant for MSC to assist the Lybians with the management of the ship, staffing, supplies and know-how as Lybia and Italy always had tight bonds between both countries.
On june 4th 2010, the letter of intent was signed and construction of the 140.000-ton ship started soon afterwards. She was to be named Phoenicia but of course, it had to be seen or a cruiseship owned by a country with a dictatorial regime was going to be filled with western tourists, as was the intention. But building started and was well underway when on the 15th of february of 2011 a civil war broke out in the country, resulting in the end of the Gadaffi regime and the death of the countries dictator. Hannibal didn't wait for his own fate and fled the country to Algeria. Officially, STX France announced that the GNMTC wasn't able to furfill it's payments for the ship so they sought a buyer for the unfinished hull. The obvious buyer was of course MSC Cruises, who had already three ships of the same design, the MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida and the MSC Divinia sailing. As you can remember, MSC once more took over an existing hull when they had built the two option sisterships orginally intended for Festival Cruises in the early 2000's. Later they also picked up the Festival pair after that companies demise and this class now sails as the Lirica-class for MSC. On march 13th of 2012, MSC officially bought the hull and had it finished as their MSC Preziosa.
Construction and general statistics
MSC recieved a very large ship with the purchase of the former Phoenicia. She is measured at 139.072 tons and has a lenght of 332,99 meters. She is 38,01 meters wide and her draft reaches 8,29 meters. The ship has a total of 18 decks, of which 13 are accessible for the total of 4345 passengers. Another number given is 3959, but this is on a two-per-cabin basis. These people will be served by 1370 crewmembers. The normal cruisingspeed was to be somewhere around 23 knots and the ship is driven by twin propellers, that can be used independently. Those are powered by two 16-cylinder and three 12-cylinder diesel engines of Wärtsilä design, in combination with two General Electric designed electric motors. For MSC Cruises after completion, the ship was going to fly the flag of Panama.
When passing IJmuiden on her way to Amsterdam, the MSC giant was accompanied by a bright rainbow welcoming her to The Netherlands.
The ship was built as yardnumber X32 at the STX France Yards at Saint-Nazaire, France and the first steel was cut at the 15th of december of 2010. Between the moment when it was clear that the Lybian company was not able to finish the ship and the moment when MSC actually bought the unfinished hull, STX kept working on the ship taking a little bit of a gamble there without a real customer. After MSC bought the hull, to great relief of the French, the ship was finished to the same specifications as their MSC Divinia, that was a little larger then the two earlier ships. At that time, the ship was complete for 45% and the hull was complete for 70%. Originally, GNMTC planned the ship to be ready in december of 2012, but for MSC this date was pushed back to march 2013.Of course inside MSC had to change the design a bit, as they for example thought they could find better use for the space that was intended to become the shark-tank. Huh?
With all gimmicks built in aboard new cruiseships, of course you could expect that Hannibal Gadaffi wanted to have a cool something extra too. He must have had a hard time thinking 'bout something but he finally came up with the idea of a 120-ton shark-tank capable of holding six sharks. He already knew which were the lucky ones, two sandsharks, two blacktip reef sharks and of course two white sharks. As this was going to be the 'wow'-factor for the Phoenicia, four biologists would be part of the crew to keep an eye on the health and well-being of the sharks. Besides the tank, the ship was supposed to be filled with large statues and marble columns to awe at.
The finished ship was designed with only LED-lighting systems to save energy, next to a totally automated central system for electricty-usage. This means that in empty cabins, all electric devices are turned off automaticly as well as the coolingsystems and airconditioning that will be turned off when the cabincard is not in place.
Aboard, there are seven restaurants and 20 bars and lounges, so enough places to enjoy and fill your inner needs. For entertainment, there are also four swimmingpools, a bowling alley, a 1600-seat theater, a smurf-themed play-area for children at deck 15and a sports arena with the possibility for basketball, volleyball, tennis and jogging at a 235-meter long joggingcourse. Of course there is an extended spa- and fitnesscenter, 12 whirlpools, a casino, and the aft-facing Infinity Pool & Beach area overlooking the stern of the ship.
The interiours are designed by the house-designer for the MSC fleet, DeJorio Design from Genoa, the home-base for MSC.
Below, MSC Preziosa just has left the IJmuiden north lock followed by some dark clouds filled with rain. On this picture, the dark clouds clear out her profile.
At the 14th of march 2013, the ship was delivered to MSC Cruises and afterwards she sailed for Genoa where she was named by who else then Sophia Loren at the 23rd of march, a day after her arrival. One day after her naming, the ship departed for her first cruise in the Mediterranean. She kept sailing the Med from Genoa untill october, before relocating to South America where she sailed a series of cruises from the Brazilian port of Santos. From the summer of 2017 onwards, the ship is also seen in more northern parts of Europe, especially sailing around Great Britain.