When Sophia Loren christens MSC Divina in Marseille on 26 May, the ship will become the twelfth member of the fast-growing Italian-styled but Swiss-owned MSC fleet, and the third ship of the 138,000 gross ton Fantasia class; the name ship of this class was delivered in 2008.

It now seems that, following protracted negotiations, there will be a fourth ship in this series. This is the vessel originally ordered by Libya’s state-owned GNMTC well before the recent uprising brought turmoil to that country. During the early part of 2011 the STX shipyard cancelled the order and put the partly completed ship up for sale. MSC has advised that, when this ship enters service in 2014, she will carry the name MSC Preziosa. Apart from the little Melody, the MSC fleet will then consist of three classes, each with four ships.

Two ships from the smallest class, MSC Opera and MSC Sinfonia, will spend the winter in South Africa, with the former based in Cape Town and the latter in Durban, both operating for the recently-acquired MSCStarlightCruises agency.

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