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New MSC Cruises ship rivals biggest Royal Caribbean and Carnival vessels in size, offerings

June 22, 2022
4 min read
MSC World Europa
New MSC Cruises ship rivals biggest Royal Caribbean and Carnival vessels in size, offerings
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MSC Cruises' new MSC World Europa — the first in the brand's new World Class of ships — completed sea trials Tuesday, marking the latest milestone in a flurry of new-ship activity from the line over the past several years.

While all new ships must successfully complete sea trials in order to begin carrying passengers, what sets this moment apart is that MSC World Europa, at a maximum occupancy of 6,762 passengers and a size of 205,700 gross registered tons, is almost as big as the five ships of Royal Caribbean's Oasis class — the world's largest cruise ships.

The Oasis-class ships are only about 20,000 to 30,000 tons bigger and hold around the same number of people.

New ships from the world's biggest cruise brands are launching all the time, but only a few — including MSC World Europa — have actually come close to dethroning the Oasis-class vessels for the title of world's largest cruise ship. It's a set of vessels that has defined "behemoth" in the cruise space since the first ship in the series, Oasis of the Seas, debuted in 2009.

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Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

In March, the Oasis class again made headlines when Wonder of the Seas, which currently holds the title of world's largest cruise ship, splashed onto the scene. Before Wonder of the Seas, other Oasis-class vessels claimed the superlative. The only other cruise vessels that have come remotely close in size — at least among ships catering to North Americans — are Carnival's Mardi Gras (with a capacity for 6,465 passengers and a size of 180,000 gross registered tons) and MSC Cruises sister ships MSC Grandiosa and MSC Virtuosa (each holding up to 6,334 passengers and measuring 181,541 gross registered tons). Several other recently built cruise ships, including two Costa Cruises vessels and P&O Cruises' Iona, also are similar in size to MSC World Europa but cater largely to foreign markets.

So, just how big can cruise ships get?

We're talking about giant floating cities that include housing, restaurants, live performances, shopping, movie theaters, nightclubs, pools and waterslides, child care and medical facilities among their standard offerings. But the most modern megaships also feature a slew of activities from boardwalks, laser tag, escape rooms and surf simulators to roller coasters, carousels, rock climbing and wearable technology.

For a list of the biggest ships afloat, check out our rundown of the largest cruise ships by both passenger capacity and tonnage.

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An 11-deck-high dry slide will be a feature on new MSC Cruises ship MSC World Europa. (Image courtesy of MSC Cruises)

In addition to challenging Royal Caribbean in terms of ship size, MSC Cruises has added several touches to MSC World Europa that aim to take on some of the line's other superlatives, too. The new vessel's aft will feature a Y-shaped design with an open-air promenade (similar to Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class Boardwalk concept), inward-facing balconies that overlook the space (which the Oasis class also has) and a spiraling 11-deck dry slide that will surpass Royal Caribbean's Ultimate Abyss by one deck in height.

But Royal Caribbean isn't the only line at which MSC Cruises is flexing its muscles. Carnival Corp., which previously had the world's largest LNG-powered vessels with Costa Smeralda, Costa Toscana, P&O's Iona and Carnival's Mardi Gras, has been surpassed with MSC World Europa, which will become the largest vessel to operate on the cleaner-burning fuel.

MSC World Europa is slated to debut in November. It will offer seven-night Persian Gulf voyages from Dubai through the winter before redeploying to the Mediterranean for seven-night sailings from Barcelona and various Italian ports like Genoa, Naples and Taormina.

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Featured image by MSC CRUISES
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