MSC Cruises goes in big on the U.S. market

The MSC Meraviglia's promenade ceiling is alight with LED lights that change patterns and even put on a show.

The MSC Meraviglia’s promenade ceiling is alight with LED lights that change patterns and even put on a show. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin

NEW YORK — The MSC Meraviglia arrived here on Monday from Europe, with MSC Cruises executives noting more than once that it is the largest cruise ship to dock in Manhattan.

The Meraviglia (pronounced Mer-a-VEE-lia) is sailing three cruises from New York, and then it will reposition to Miami for the winter season. The Meraviglia joins the MSC Seaside, the line’s year-round ship in the Caribbean, and the MSC Divina and MSC Armonia this fall. For the first time, MSC has four ships serving the North American market simultaneously. 

The Meraviglia, one of the largest ships in the fleet, carries 4,488-passengers at double occupancy and is 171,598 gross tons. In the U.S., only Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships are bigger.

Night views: The MSC Meraviglia's pool deck.

Night views: The MSC Meraviglia’s pool deck. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin

“This is a perfect example of our commitment to growing in the North American market,” COO Ken Muskat said in brief remarks Monday night. “We are the fastest-growing cruise line in the world. … We are growing in North America in a very big way.” 

Even so, he added, “We’re very passionate about our European roots and our European style. You’ll see that in the decor, you’ll see that in the hardware, you’ll see that in the culinary experiences, and you’ll also see that in our entertainment.” 

The European flavour is on display the moment guests step into the center promenade. The ceiling is made up of thousands of LED lights that change into different patterns and put on an evening light show. On various visits to the promenade over the course of the evening, the ceiling changed from a pattern reminiscent of the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele in Milan to a cloud-filled sky to a homage to the Sistine Chapel.

The dramatic Swarovski crystal staircase on the MSC Meraviglia.

The dramatic Swarovski crystal staircase on the MSC Meraviglia. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin

The vessel is massive with plentiful public spaces. There’s a full-size, indoor basketball court. One big area with a swimming pool gives way to another big area with a swimming pool. When you get on the elevator and your guide says, “Press the button for Deck 16,” it’s not even the top deck; there are 19. 

Although it is mega in size, the Meraviglia is broken down into smaller gathering spaces that make it seem positively intimate at times. Take the Carousel Lounge, which is purpose-built for MSC’s exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows. It’s a small theatre in the (almost) round, and guests are close enough to the performers to make eye contact.  

A selection of tapas at the Hola! restaurant. The restaurant features culinary creations by Michelin-starred chef Ramon Freixa.

A selection of tapas at the Hola! restaurant. The restaurant features culinary creations by Michelin-starred chef Ramon Freixa. Photo Credit: Rebecca Tobin

The Meraviglia has no shortage of celebrity and brand partnerships. In addition to the Cirque du Soleil performances, a tapas restaurant features the dishes from Michelin-starred chef Ramon Freixa. The Chocolat and Cafe bear the name of pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury. The kid’s clubs are Lego designed. A partnership between MSC and Martha Stewart includes curated shore excursions, gift packages and onboard holiday dinner menus.

MSC Virtuosa Is Open for Bookings

MSC Virtuosa
PHOTO: Rendering of MSC Virtuosa. (photo courtesy MSC Cruises)

MSC Cruises’ first Meraviglia-Plus ship to be named MSC Grandiosa

Image result for msc meraviglia

MSC Cruises has announced that its first Meraviglia-Plus class ship will be named MSC Grandiosa when it enters service in November 2019.

The announcement was made by MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, as the line celebrated the steel-cutting ceremony for the ship as well as the traditional coin ceremony for MSC Bellissima, which is due to join the fleet in March 2019.

In addition to the two ships now under construction at the STX France shipyard, MSC also has two ships being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, as part of a 10-year investment plan which will see €9 billion invested in 11 new ships.

Vago said: “Today we are celebrating a truly unique moment, as it is the first time that key shipbuilding milestones for two different ships are celebrated on the same day. This is a testimony of the strength and ambition of our investment plan.”

He added: “The Meraviglia generation of ships is already setting a new standard for the cruise industry and is just one of the three brand new prototypes that we have designed to bring the cruise guest experience to the next level.

“MSC Grandiosa is named to signify magnificence and grandeur, a fitting name for this even richer, ultra-modern mega-ship.”

In addition to the first fine art museum at sea, MSC Grandiosa will be one of four MSC ships to feature Cirque du Soleil at Sea in the custom-built Carousel Lounge, Vago said.

The Meraviglia-Plus ships are an evolution of the Meraviglia class (pictured), which includes MSC Meraviglia – in service since June of this year – and MSC Bellissima.

The Plus class will be 331 metres in length, compared to the Meraviglia class at 315 metres, and will have a maximum capacity of 6,334 guests.