Geneva, 9 November – MSC Cruises, the Geneva, Switzerland-based global cruise line – number one in Europe, South America and South Africa – has today disclosed a long-term partnership with Cirque du Soleil, the Quebec-based world leader in artistic entertainment, that will set new standards in live entertainment at sea.

In a first at sea, brand new Cirque du Soleil shows will be created exclusively for MSC Cruises guests aboard MSC Cruises’ next-generation Meraviglia ships, in a multimillion-euro, ground-breaking entertainment and dining venue designed, in collaboration, by MSC Cruises and Cirque du Soleil.

The partnership was revealed in Barcelona, Spain, aboard MSC Fantasia, MSC Cruises’ flagship, during the “All Stars of the Sea” – the annual MSC Cruises trade gathering to celebrate and reward the Company’s top performing partners from across the globe – before an audience of more than 1,800 travel agents from over 150 countries and members of the media.

Exquisite dining and award-winning entertainment are two key distinguishing elements of the MSC Cruises experience. To elevate these two elements to the next level, MSC Cruises and Cirque du Soleil together imagined and are building for MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia ships a completely custom-made, latest-technology dining and entertainment venue, to become the first of its kind at sea. This is where MSC Cruises guests will be able to enjoy brand new, exclusive Cirque du Soleil shows, six nights a week, two performances per night – all of which, while enjoying an extraordinary MSC Cruises culinary experience.

The specifically-designed venue represents an industry-first €20m investment, that will see the custom-built entertainment and dining Aft Lounge filled with technology and be best suited to the needs of both Cirque du Soleil artists and guests. The 1,000sqm, 450-seat Aft Lounge will feature a 200-seat dining area so that guests can enjoy an exquisite dinner or drinks before the performance. Cirque du Soleil’s world-class artists will deliver two shows created exclusively for MSC Cruises that will capture the imagination of all guests. Shows and related dining options will be available only to MSC Cruises guests aboard the four next-generation Meraviglia project ships, the first of which – MSC Meraviglia – is set to sail its inaugural season in the Mediterranean from June 2017.

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises declared: “MSC Cruises is a company built on innovation, from the unique, prototype ships we design and build to the on-board experiences we conceive and create.”

He added: “Together with our newest world-class partner, Cirque du Soleil, we imagined and are now designing a totally new, live entertainment experience exclusively for our guests; original shows in a multimillion-euro custom-built venue aboard a ship we designed ourselves, down to the last detail. It’s this commitment to innovation, and the vision and creativity that only a family-owned company can apply, that make MSC Cruises so distinct.”

Yasmine Khalil, President 45 DEGREES, Cirque du Soleil’s Special Projects Company, commented: “We have found in MSC a long term partner with a clear vision about trends in the cruising industry and a strong desire to be the leader by bringing entertainment on board to a whole new level. For Cirque du Soleil, this is what inspires us and provides us with a great creative challenge that we require for each new relationship and project that we embark on. ”

This ground-breaking new entertainment offering will first be available aboard MSC Meraviglia, the most innovative cruise ship ever built by a global European-based cruise line. The cutting-edge 5,700-guest, 167,600-GRT ship — due to be delivered in May 2017 — will spend her first summer sailing the western Mediterranean, and will be the first to have three homeports: Genoa, Marseille and Barcelona. Cruises for MSC Meraviglia’s inaugural season are already on sale and can be accessed here or via preferred travel agents around the world.