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MSC Cruises previews Meraviglia, its first Vista class cruise ship

MSC Cruises previews Meraviglia, its first Vista class cruise ship
A rendering of the pool of the top deck of the MSC Meraviglia, which started production Monday in France. It will hit the water in 2017. (MSC Cruises)

When it sails in 2017, the MSC Meraviglia will feature "cluster cabins" for families traveling together, a digital sky along the ceiling of an inside promenade deck, and a linked-up amusement and outdoor water park.

MSC Cruises unveiled plans Monday for the first of its new generation of Vista megaships during a steel-cutting ceremony -- the first step in the shipbuilding process -- at STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

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The ship will have bigger luxury areas with duplex suites, a solarium and private lounge in the self-contained MSC Yacht Club area in the front of the ship.

A large theater and a three-story inside promenade deck are among other features of the ship that will hold 4,500 guests (presuming two people per cabin), a cruise line statement says.

The ship also will make use of what's called "near field communication." Passengers will be able to open their cabins or locate (GPS-wise) their kids with a cruise card, high-tech wearable or smartphone.

The Meraviglia will be joined by a sister Vista class ship in 2019. The company is spending $5.4 billion to double its ship capacity by 2022, which includes construction of up to seven new ships.

The Meraviglia will have three home ports in its debut year: Genoa, Italy; Marseille, France; and Barcelona, Spain. The ship will spend its first summer sailing in the western Mediterranean starting in May 2017.

Reservations for the Meraviglia's 2017 sailing will open this June.

Info: MSC Cruises, (877) 665-4655 or contact a travel agent

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