MSC’s newest cruise ship was being built with an aquarium for sharks

//MSC’s newest cruise ship was being built with an aquarium for sharks

MSC Cruises may have picked up a bargain by taking over a ship which was being built for Libya’s overthrown Gaddafi regime, but they are missing out on what could have been a unique feature – an aquarium containing six sharks.
The 140,000-ton ship was originally ordered by Hannibal Gaddafi – son of the former leader – when he discovered he was unable to charter cruise ships for his own use at short notice. To be called Phoenicia, and capable of carrying 3,500 passengers, it was being built by the STX shipyard in St Nazaire, France when his dictator father was killed.
The vessel is similar in plan to MSC’s Fantasia, Splendida and Divina, and will become the MSC Preziosa when it is launched next year. Some design changes will be made before it is completed, and one item in particular will be removed from the original specification.
Gaddafi, a trained seaman who ran the Libyan Maritime Authority, had planned a special treat to entertain his private guests on the ship – an aquarium housing live sharks. The tank, containing 120 tons of seawater and surrounded by marble columns, life-sized statues and gold-framed mirrors, would have held two sand tiger sharks, two white sharks and two blacktip reef sharks.
They would have been looked after by a team of four marine biologists, and provided with their own dedicated food supply – presumably not left-overs from the passenger restaurants.
MSC bought the partly-built ship for €550 million and chief executive Pierfrancesco Vago said that “very tough negotiations” took place with STX over the “cleaning up” of the decor to fit MSC’s corporate style.
“There were some public spaces with some very particular and peculiar architectural taste – lots of gilt,” he said. “I personally don’t know why, but he wanted a shark tank.” He added that Gaddafi had attempted to charter ships in the past, but “had great difficulty understanding that cruise ship holidays are sold a year in advance, so there’s no way you could ever find availability at short notice.”
Hannibal Gaddafi fled to Algeria when the Libyan uprising overthrew his father’s regime last year.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:52+00:00 16 March 2012|Cruise News|0 Comments

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John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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