Filipino Michael Monegro, 41s, was charged in federal court in Los Angeles with fatally stabbing the victim 17 times on September 20.
Other members of the crew witnessed the attack, after which the captain of the ship convinced Monegro to surrender the knives. Monegro was then detained in a cabin aboard the ship, where other members of the crew took turns guarding him.
During a shipboard interview by FBI agents on September 22, Monegro admitted to stabbing the victim repeatedly, according to the affidavit.
The felony offence charged in the indictment carries a statutory maximum sentence of death or life in federal prison.
This is not the first death recorded on the 2011-built MSC Ravenna. Three years ago a 57-year-old Filipino seafarer died after falling four storeys while the ship was docked in Malta.