There are some very cool changes in store for what was, until recently, the backbone of the MSC Cruises fleet. Beginning this summer, the line will embark on a $273-million dollar refurbishment that will completely revitalize their four Lirica-class cruise ships: MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Lirica and MSC Opera.

MSC Lirica alongside at Civitavecchia. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

MSC Lirica alongside at Civitavecchia. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Beginning with MSC Armonia on August 31, 2014, MSC’s “Renaissance Program” will add nearly 200 new staterooms to each of the line’s Lirica-class cruise ships and increase their overall length by 79 feet to a total of 902 feet. Their total capacity will also increase, to 2,680 guests apiece; and major renovations are planned for the ship’s existing public spaces.

Once completed, each of the four Lirica-class ships will boast an entirely new Splash Park, complete with water cannons and an entire pathway of new aquatic features. The ship’s onboard boutiques will be given an entirely new interior design that features more space and a brand-new perfumery; and new technology will be incorporated throughout the vessels.

Throughout each ship, public rooms and staterooms will be renewed, and new crew staterooms will be added.

MSC Armonia off Croatia. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

MSC Armonia off Croatia. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / Creative Commons

“When our four Lirica-class ships return to the seas after a total of 38 weeks in drydock, they will be entirely new ships with additional amenities and comfort for our travelers, allowing them to reach sophisticated and refined destinations around the world,” said MSC Cruises’ Chief Executive Officer, Gianni Onorato. “MSC Cruises’ ships are works of art in their own right.  With these exciting upgrades to our fleet – already renowned for its unrivalled style and elegance – we will be even more competitive”.

MSC Sinfonia is the next to go “under the knife” in January 2015, followed by MSC Opera in May of 2015 and finally, MSC Lirica in August 2015. Each ship will be in drydock for over two months for this massive refit, the largest and most ambitious program of its kind in the history of the company.

Launched between 2000 and 2004, the Lirica-class cruise ships have formed the backbone of MSC’s fleet prior to the line’s rapid expansion in the past few years. In November, MSC made headlines by bringing their substantially-larger MSC Divina to Miami for the first time, homeporting her there for the entire 2014 cruise year.

MSC Poesia in the fog off the coast of Spain. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

The Lirica-class vessels were eventually succeeded by larger ships – including MSC Poesia, shown here in the fog off the coast of Spain. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Despite the immense growth of the MSC fleet over the past decade, the four Lirica-class ships are still enormously desirable to sail aboard.  MSC Armonia and MSC Sinfonia were originally constructed in 2000 and 2001 respectively for now-defunct Festival Cruises. Festival went out of business in early 2004, but at the time the line still held options with France’s Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire for two additional vessels based on their 1999 Mistral, which now sails for rival European operator, Costa.

MSC Cruises snapped up Festival’s European Vision and European Star, renaming them MSC Armonia and MSC Sinfonia, and also exercised the unused options for two additional vessels: MSC Lirica and MSC Opera. With the exception of some exterior modifications and alterations to the ship’s General Arrangement plans, they are essentially sister-ships.

Now, with these sweeping refits that will begin this summer and last until the end of 2015, the four sisters will become more united than ever.

More information about MSC Cruises can be found by paying a visit to their website.


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