For Many Cruise Ships, Their Journeys Begin in Italy
Italy has a long history of shipbuilding and seafaring. In the early 20th century, shipyards in Genoa and Trieste delivered cruise liners that were renowned for their elegance and engineering. One of them, the Rex, set a record for crossing the Atlantic in 1933.
Today, the heir to that tradition is Fincantieri, one of the world’s leading shipbuilders. The company, which has its headquarters in Trieste, has set a standard for craftsmanship, design, and technology. If you’ve taken a cruise, there’s a good chance you’ve sailed on a vessel built in one of its shipyards—or will in the future.
Fincantieri has built more than 70 cruise ships and its customers include just about every major cruise line. Among them are the Viking Star, the first oceangoing vessel for Viking Cruises, the leader in European river journeys; Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth; and two ships for Disney Cruise Line—Magic and Wonder.
The company has orders for a dozen more ships, including the MSC Seaside, the first in a new class of “smart ships” and the biggest ever built by a Fincantieri shipyard. It’s set to begin service in December 2017 and will sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean. The ship is designed for warm-weather destinations, with outdoor spaces that will bring passengers closer to the sea and catwalks with glass floors that will let them feel like they’re walking on water. The Seaside will include a wraparound promenade with spots to shop, eat, and sunbathe, as well as cuisine from around the world and, for thrill-seekers, the longest zip line of any cruise ship.
Shipbuilding is a modern industry but it has many traditions that connect it with the past.
In April, the coin ceremony for the MSC Seaside took place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. This event is held when the ship’s keel is laid, marking the official start of construction. A coin is welded into the hull of the ship, in order to ensure good luck and a long life at sea.
In June, a ceremony was held at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa to mark the first cutting of steel for the Ovation, which will be the newest ship in Seabourn Cruise Line’s fleet of smaller, ultra-luxury vessels. The Ovation is scheduled to begin sailing in spring 2018.
The launch is the most thrilling step in the shipbuilding process. It’s a time of pageantry, when the ship is blessed before its maiden voyage.
In April, Holland America Line and Fincantieri held a handover ceremony for the Koningsdam in which the captain was presented with a bottle containing the first water that touched the hull. A naming ceremony took place the next month in Rotterdam. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the ship’s godmother, christened the Koningsdam by cutting a ribbon that released a magnum of champagne into the ship’s bow. The Koningsdam will sail throughout the Caribbean from its port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
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