Starry-eyed guests in Marseille celebrate latest jewel in the MSC fleet
Sunday 27 May 2012 - Yesterday evening in Marseille, France, the latest jewel in the MSC Cruises’ fleet, MSC Divina, was christened in suitably elegant style by international screen legend Sophia Loren. The exclusive high-profile event included a gala dinner and entertainment from illustrious performers in the company of international celebrities, selected guests, media, authorities and the top management of MSC Cruises.
At the heart of the festivities was not only the addition of the 12th ship to the MSC Cruises’ ultra-modern fleet, but also the Mediterranean heritage of which the company is so proud. The event was themed Med with Passion, and MSC Divina herself represents the embodiment of Mediterranean style. Every detail of the on board experience and the christening itself were carefully considered to reflect the colours, the perfumes, the history and the culture of the area, offering guests an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy the region’s celebrated values of authenticity and warm hospitality.
Continuing MSC Cruises’ tradition of christening its ships in different European ports, the company and the port itself yesterday paid homage to Marseille and its centuries-old customs.
“Since 2003 we have built our ships on French soil, partnering with the French shipyard and heavily contributing to employment and the economy. Tonight in Marseille we will celebrate this long-established relationship, paying homage to the country’s oldest and biggest port at the christening ceremony of our latest flagship, MSC Divina,” said MSC Cruises CEO Pierfrancesco Vago, summing up the occasion.
“We could not have found a better choice than Marseille, where the majority of our French guests embark all year round and where MSC ships will call 80 times in 2012, bringing over 280,000 international guests to the region. MSC has also worked alongside the French Government with substantial investment in the local cruise terminal and MSC Divina’s christening event is the perfect opportunity to show MSC guests the comfort and modernity of a state-of-the-art terminal, a fitting gateway to the unforgettable onboard experience they will discover.”
The Captens Aerobatic Display Team and the Breitling Jet Team opened yesterday evening’s celebrations with two breathtakingly beautiful and skilful aerial shows.
This was followed by a performance from La Poulido de Gèmo, a local folk-group which strives to preserve regional traditions through dance, music and traditional costumes. Members of the group, both young and old, are all motivated by a love of Provence and its traditions, and this passion for their region shone through last night.
A dynamic eight-minute medley of MSC Divina’s theatrical shows then followed, complete with energetic dance, acrobatics, and an impressive 14-person pyramid.
Gerard Depardieu, one of Europe's most accomplished actors and talented leading men, then narrated the evening’s events and the story of MSC Divina in his own lively and entertaining manner.
The christening ceremony was of course attended by numerous international stars, including celebrated classical performer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Maxim Vengerov, a supporter of the MSC Cruises and UNICEF Get on Board for Children initiative which funds a project for education equality for disadvantaged children in Brazil and which has raised over 1 million euros to date. Vengerov took to the stage with local children and released hundreds of UNICEF balloons to mark the occasion. He then delighted guests with a surprise violin solo.
The event’s main artist, critically acclaimed Italian singer, pianist and composer Paolo Conte mesmerized the audience with his grainy, resonant voice and his colourful and dreamy compositions, evocative of jazz and blues.
The highlight of the evening was of course the floodlit ceremony and the parade of the ship’s officers, when the peerless Sophia Loren – treasured godmother of the MSC Cruises’ fleet - cut the ribbon and named MSC Divina to a crescendo of champagne, confetti, and sparkling fountains.
While this went on, an equally talented famous face was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Lucky guests enjoyed two signature gourmet menus from French favourite Chef Christian Constant. Each traditional delicacy aimed to surprise and delight, and was prepared using the finest ingredients with a fresh new twist, just like MSC Divina herself.
The Marseilles Provence Cruise Club, who welcomed MSC Divina into Marseille harbour on Friday 25 May with an impressive parade will see her off again today in style as she takes to the seas for her long-awaited first season.
About MSC Cruises:
MSC Cruises is the world’s leading cruise company in the Mediterranean, South African and Brazilian markets and operates across the globe. Its modern fleet comprises twelve ships: MSC Magnifica, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Poesia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Musica, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Armonia, MSC Opera, MSC Lirica, MSC Melody and MSC Divina, the latter launched in May 2012. The fleet cruises year-round in the Mediterranean and seasonally in Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean & the Antilles, South America, the Indian Ocean, South and West Africa, Red Sea.
MSC Cruises is the only company in the world to receive the "6 Golden Pearls" award from the Bureau Veritas in recognition of its high level of quality management and environmental responsibility. MSC has also achieved ISO 9001 and ISO 22000 certification for the quality and food safety of all aspects of its catering, both onshore and onboard. MSC Cruises cares about the welfare of children, and as a responsible market leader believes in making a positive impact in the regions where it operates. To this end, the company recently forged a partnership with UNICEF to fund a community project aimed at providing disadvantaged children in Brazil with a quality education. In the first two years, the partnership has raised over a million euros.