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 Meraviglia Becomes Biggest Ship to Call in Manhattan

MSC Meraviglia

The MSC Meraviglia made history in the early hours of Monday morning, October 7, as she became the largest cruise ship to dock in New York City as she berthed at the north end of Pier 88 at Manhattan Cruise Terminal. 

“We are so thrilled to welcome MSC Meraviglia, a truly beautiful ship, to the U.S. as she marks another major milestone for MSC Cruises in the North American market,” said Ken Muskat, EVP & Chief Operating Officer of MSC Cruises (USA). “Due to significant demand, for the first time in MSC Cruises history, we now have four distinct ships sailing in the region as MSC Meraviglia joins MSC Seaside, MSC Armonia and MSC Divina. With each ship offering its own unique design and guest experience inspired by our European heritage, we look forward to providing travellers with even more choice and variety to best fit their vacation needs.” 

Meraviglia in New York

Designed to sail in all seasons and climates, the MSC Meraviglia will begin her North America program with three cruises from New York, including two itineraries to New England and Canada and one repositioning to her new homeport in Miami.

On her first Caribbean sailing, departing from NYC on October 28, the MSC Meraviglia will be the first ship to call on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises’ new g private island destination in the Bahamas opening November 9, 2019.

From November 10, 2019, through April 5, 2020, MSC Meraviglia will sail two different seven-night western Caribbean itineraries visiting ports in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Belize, Honduras and The Bahamas. 

MSC Meraviglia

Following her inaugural season in Miami, MSC Meraviglia will then return to Northern Europe for summer 2020, from April to September.

Upon returning to the U.S. on October 2020, the MSC Meraviglia will once again do three 10-night sailings from New York to Canada & New England before then homeporting back in Miami for seven-night Caribbean sailings.

Supply Chain In Focus for MHA Conference at Sea

MSC Divina

Among the topics set for the Marine Hotel Association’s (MHA) Conference at Sea, this December will be the cruise ship supply chain.

The Conference at Sea will run aboard MSC’s Divina on a three-night itinerary in December (Dec. 17-20); port calls will include the brand new Ocean Cay Marine Reserve as well as Nassau, as the cruise sails from Miami roundtrip.

The event brings MHA members together with relevant cruise line purchasing decision-makers.

The first session during the Conference at Sea will focus on the all-important cruise ship supply chain.

The three-hour workshop will discuss the supply chain from start to finish, purchasing to consumption and also include consolidation and loading.

Presentations are scheduled from multiple cruise operators and purchasing entities, and vendors will get the important question and answer time from panel participants ahead of business networking sessions scheduled for Thursday aboard the ship.

Immediately following the supply chain workshop, MHA members will have the opportunity to get a unique behind-the-scenes look aboard with hosted tours of key areas on the ship.

The MHA has thus far confirmed 14 participating cruise lines for its December Conference at Sea, representing 78 ships and nearly half a billion dollars in annual food spending.

Scheduled every other year, this will be the association’s third event hosted aboard a cruise ship, with previous events held with Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line

The MHA is a true not-for-profit organization, with membership dues at $500.

Its not-for-profit status also means that revenue is put back into the organization and into the famed MHA scholarship fund, which has doled out over 8,000 scholarships over 35 years.