MSC Cruises has announced it will enter the ultra-luxury cruise market with the addition of four new ships to its fleet.

The cruise line has signed a memorandum of agreement with shipbuilder Fincantieri, valued in excess of €2 billion.

The 500-cabin ships – the first of which will be delivered in spring 2023 – will have a gross tonnage of approximately 64,000 GT.

The remaining three ships will come into service one per year over the following three years. According to MSC, they will feature the latest environmental technology and innovative design.

These ships are in addition to the ten ships MSC Cruises is set to launch before the end of 2026.

Antonio Paradiso, managing director of MSC Cruises UK & Ireland, said: “Entering into the ultra-luxury segment is yet another exciting development in our offering.

“In addition to our Yacht Club experience, which is very popular amongst our UK and Irish guests, from 2023 onwards guests will enjoy an even wider choice of five-star cruise experiences in the highest segment of the market.

“Accessible luxury is something that from our research we know there is significant demand for from the UK market, and our new offering will allow guests to visit some of the most beautiful destinations in the world whilst holidaying in luxury.

“Our future ultra-luxury ships will come as close as it comes to a private yacht experience.”

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, added: “It is off the back of the great success of our ship-within-a-ship luxury concept that our guests asked us to enter into the ultra-luxury segment, as a natural evolution of the MSC Yacht Club.

“These ships will be able to offer unique itineraries, thanks to their size, and the guest services will be taken to another level, including our personalised MSC Yacht Club butler service, available 24/7.

“We are now introducing another new class, which will establish a new standard of ultra-luxury at sea with ships that will showcase the quality and highest standards that are associated with Made in Italy.”