MSC Grandiosa Is Christened

From the Grandiosa christening

MSC Cruises has christened the MSC Grandiosa in the city of Hamburg on the fourth and final night of celebrations in the Blue Port as Sophia Loren named her 15th MSC Cruises ship.

Since arriving in Hamburg on Nov. 6, MSC Grandiosa has been the subject and star of an immersive light show. The traditional christening ceremony took place in different locations across the ship, and the proceedings were hosted by talented actress, TV presenter, model and singer, Michelle Hunziker alongside co-host TV host & actor Jochen Schropp, one of Germany’s favourite entertainers.

From the Grandiosa christening

The festivities included a purpose-built “MSC Village” on the banks of the River Elbe will bring the festivities to shore, welcoming 5,000 locals to experience the christening from land with live music and food trucks. Guests be joined by the popular German TV couple Annemarie & Wayne Carpendale who will act as presenters and hosts.

The evening’s main spectacle occurred as MSC Grandiosa passed the Elbphilharmonie just as a special light show illuminated the building and ship. She then took centre stage on the River Elbe as Godmother Sophia Loren officially named the vessel.

From the Grandiosa christening

The MSC Grandiosa starts her seven-night program in the Western Mediterranean on Nov. 26 with six embarkation ports calling Genoa, Civitavecchia, Italy; Palermo, Sicily; Valetta, Malta; Barcelona, Spain and Marseille, France.

Photos: Vallbracht for MSC Cruises

MSC Seaside christened in all-star affair

From left, MSC Seaside Capt. Pier Paolo Scala, godmother Sophia Loren and MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago. Photo Credit: Ivan SarfattiMIAMI — MSC Cruises on Thursday held its first christening in North America for the MSC Seaside, a ship MSC hopes will crack open the doors to further growth for the largely European brand.

The 4,138-passenger ship will anchor MSC’s Caribbean itineraries with seven-day cruises from Miami, starting Jan 6.

MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said that the MSC Divina, offering weekly departures from Miami, sources only 40% to 50% of passengers from North America. With the arrival of the Seaside, MSC hopes to boost that number to 80%.

Geneva-based MSC has 12 ships, with deployment ranging from South America to the Middle East to South Africa to China. The bulk of its business, however, comes from Europe with the Mediterranean countries of Italy, Spain and France being particularly important.

The Seaside christening was a star-studded affair with Italian actress Sophia Loren serving as godmother for the ship on a balmy Miami evening. Loren christened the first new ship for MSC in 2003, the MSC Lirica, and has done the honours ever since.

“It’s an evening we’ve been waiting many months for,” said Roberto Fusaro, president of MSC Cruises USA.

Ricky Martin at the MSC Seaside christening. Photo Credit: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images
Ricky Martin at the MSC Seaside christening. Photo Credit: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images

Prior to the christening, an audience of more than 2,500 dignitaries, travel agents, journalists and vendors was entertained by operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli and Latin pop singer Ricky Martin.

Bocelli sang “Ave Maria,” solo at first and then with Voices of Haiti, a children’s choir of 60 Haitian kids that sang this summer at the Teatro del Silenzio concert in Bocelli’s hometown of Lajatico in Italy’s Tuscany region. They also sang “Amazing Grace” together in English.

The emcee of the evening was TV personality, Mario Lopez. Also on hand was Hall of Fame Miami Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino, underscoring MSC’s marketing partnership as the official cruise line of the Dolphins.

MSC announced a charitable partnership with the Andrea Bocelli Foundation to help the impoverished island of Haiti with health, education, environmental help and economic development.

The Seaside is a new class of ship for MSC, it’s fifth since it began building cruise ships for its own fleet in 2003. The ship has an unusually broad, uncovered promenade on Deck 8 that gives a sense of closeness to the ocean.

A pool on the aft of Deck 8 deck is surrounded by loungers and is connected by glass-enclosed elevators to another pool and sun area on Deck 16. Over that pool is a zipline, running from funnel to stern, the longest at sea at 400 feet.

Dan Marino gives a Miami Dolphins helmet to MSC Cruises USA President Roberto Fusaro. Photo Credit: Ivan Sarfatti
Dan Marino gives a Miami Dolphins helmet to MSC Cruises USA President Roberto Fusaro. Photo Credit: Ivan Sarfatti

The ship’s inaugural 14-night cruise departing Dec. 23 will visit Antigua and Barbuda; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Nassau, Bahamas; Jamaica; the Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico.

MSC is spending $12 billion to triple its capacity by 2026. “This is what has allowed us to have the tonnage to finally serve the North American market,” Vago said.

Mediterranean Shipping Co., the parent company of MSC, was founded in 1970 by a former ship captain, Gianluigi Aponte, and grew into a global power in the container shipping sector. It entered the cruise business in 1989 by acquiring Naples-based Lauro Lines, with its flagship the Achille Lauro.

At the christening, MSC Seaside was docked at Port Miami’s Terminal B, one terminal away from a massive MSC cargo ship, its decks stacked 10 deep with 2,500 maroon-coloured containers with the yellow MSC logo stamped on the sides.

MSC Divina Review

MSC Divina Review

Hollywood royalty Sophia Loren and Gérard Depardieu preside over a star-studded ceremony to christen MSC Divina

MSC Divina Review

Gracing the main stage in a shimmering floor-length gown, it was Sophia Loren who stole the show at the star-studded launch of MSC Divina in May. Joined by legendary French actor Gérard Depardieu, Italian jazz icon Paolo Conte and violinist Maxim Vengerov, Ms Loren welcomed MSC’s newest addition to the fleet with all the elegance, class and sophistication you might expect.

As the third ship in the Fantasia class and 12th in the MSC fleet, Divina is not simply another addition to their growing list of beautiful ships. Instead, the influence and involvement of the iconic Italian film star are more evident than ever, beginning with one particularly fundamental detail: its name.

Ms Loren recounts: “One evening, I was chatting to Gianluigi [Aponte, MSC’s founder and president] Ms Loren’s favourite novels. Despite these, Divina bears a striking resemblance to her sisters and boasts a number of luxurious additions.

If you’ve ever spent any time on board Fantasia or Splendida, you’ll have no problem navigating Divina’s 14 passenger decks and, apart from her sleek new colour palette and unique deck and restaurant names,Divina’s general layout sees very few changes. Likewise, the design of the cabins remains nearly untouched, and yet the unexpected spaces and additional luxuries manage to produce a decidedly Mediterranean flavour and give Divina a personality of her own.

One such unexpected space can be found at the very stern of the 15th deck, where a stunning infinity pool offers panoramic views out over a gentle trail of wake. Sitting within the Zen Area, the Garden about wishes and desires. I mentioned my dream of having a ship named after me and he immediately suggested ‘Divina’, as a divine experience gives you memories that will last forever.”

Ms Loren’s influence extends to suite number 16007, which can be found in the MSC Yacht Club – the exclusive section of the ship dedicated to an ultra-luxury experience. The ship’s godmother selected the rich palette of deep reds that are used throughout; the cabin features a set of specially designed lamps and the walls are decorated with photographs of Ms Loren in her most memorable roles. The final touch takes shape in a replica of her personal dressing table, where cabin guests will be able to prepare for glamorous gala dinners in true Sophia Loren style. The plush MSC Yacht Club library also features a collection of 20 of leave your locks looking shiny and radiant, meanwhile MSC’s first barbershop is happy to provide some masculine pampering for those gentlemen in need of a cut or shave. Divina is also the first in the fleet to offer Neophor, an anti-aging medical treatment, and her state-of-the-art fitness centre has welcomed the addition of a spinning centre and Arke equipment.

The dining options on board have also expanded to suit a variety of tastes. The range of wine and regionally inspired Italian pizzas are the focal point of La Cantina di Bacco, however, they also have an array of tapas and more than 20 types of beer to choose from. For the kids, the Sacramento Hamburger House is a fast favourite and delivers crispy fried chicken bites and mini hamburgers to booths straight out of a 1950s diner. For an afternoon snack, the Nutella Corner offers chocolate-laden crêpes to satisfy the sweetest of teeth, and if the kids are in need of some poolside refreshment, they can create a slushy masterpiece at the Happy Puppy ice crystal drink stand.

MSC Divina ReviewFor finer dining, the fashionable Galaxy restaurant models itself on a 1950s Italian supper club. Floor to ceiling windows offer incredible views, and the menu evolves as the day progresses, offering plenty of options for a lazy brunch in the morning, a menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes in the evening and a selection of cocktails at night, when the restaurant transforms into a starlit disco.

One final Mediterranean touch exists in the re-creation of a typical Venetian ‘piazzetta’. Boasting a decadent Italian bakery and coffee bar, the Piazza Del Doge features a stoneware floor, carved pillars and murals of famous Italian landscapes, making it the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely cappuccino.

For entertainment, the Smurf-themed play area is a new creation for Divina’s youngest guests and, whileDivina’s lavish 1,600-seat Pantheon Theatre may feel familiar, three of its seven performances are new. The Kingdom Of The Pharoahs, Planet Music and Italian Genius will be performed for the first time on boardDivina, and will complement established favourites including Michael Jackson tribute Starwalker, and figure-skating spectacle Kids’ Story On Ice.