It’s been a little quiet on the new ship front from MSC Cruises ever since the European line wheeled out MSC Preziosa back in 2013.
This all comes to an end in a tick over three months from now when the covers come off MSC Meraviglia – the first of two brand new ships joining the fleet in 2017 and first of a mighty 11 vessels coming over the next decade. Once in action, the ship will spend its maiden season in the Mediterranean, offering seven-night cruises visiting six ports in four countries and 40 different shore excursions throughout the voyage.
All but finished at the STX France shipyard in Saint Nazaire on the western coast of France, MSC Meraviglia is currently being furnished and having the last few licks of paint applied inside and out on its 315m in length and 15 public decks.
We’ve cast our eye across the ship and uncovered 20 things we think you’ll love once she begins welcoming travellers onboard.
Ship Design and Deployment
New home ports: MSC Meraviglia will offer three embarkation opportunities on each cruise, with guests able to join the ship in either Genoa, Barcelona and Marseille. Two of these ports regularly star on most Western Mediterranean cruises however are not that well known as a home port. This means Aussie travellers heading to cruise on Meraviglia have two cities outside of the well-trodden European hotspots worth exploring before boarding.
Different deck names: So many ships have named their decks in line with tradition, so for experienced cruisers it’s virtually inevitable you’ll find the usual suspects – Riviera Deck, Promenade Deck, Caribe Deck etc. Meraviglia has named its decks after the Wonders of the World, so you can tell your friends “Meet you at the Amazon / Pyramids / Everest deck”.
Mediterranean Promenade: One of the most outstanding areas onboard will be the interior promenade. At 96 metres in length, the strip will be a major social hub for passengers with a bevy of bars, lounges, restaurants and activities on show, which will be sure to draw guests.
LED Screen in the Sky: Above the aforementioned promenade, MSC has installed a giant LED screen which will run the length of the space. It will be the longest single screen at sea and will broadcast simulated and enhanced images replicating those outside (for example, the night sky will often feature a star show quite unlike those you’re likely to see in reality).
Kids won’t be bored: Forget one Kids Club – there are seven to choose from and featuring all sorts of new activities. There’s a technology lab for the older kids and even a TV Studio for kids to get their creative juices flowing, get on camera & put together a show to take home. Two kids clubs feature input from LEGO, with plenty of kits available to build from scratch and there’s even a dedicated Baby Club with games from Chicco to keep them busy.
Teens won’t want to leave: The above was just for kids. Teens are a whole other proposition and have at their disposal a gaming room, cinema, live stage and disco to have their own age-appropriate fun.
Big kids will love it too: There’s no shortage of things for the adults to see and do either, with a tenpin bowling alley with two lanes which can be booked for a game. Don’t forget also the two Formula 1 racing simulators. Cirque Du Soleil has put together two exclusive shows for MSC, performing 12 times per week. And ten different areas to dance the night away.
Games broadcast ship-wide: If you’ve ever missed the more sedate activities such as trivia, puzzles or talent contests – fear not. These will be broadcast live throughout the ship so you can tune in through the television in your stateroom.
Accommodation and Spa
Families that cruise together, stay together: For the first time, MSC has developed a new cabin type – the Family Cluster Cabin. Basically a predefined collection of cabins which can be joined together, doing so will allow up to 10 people to stay in one jumbo sized space.
Plenty of balconies: Three out of every four cabins on MSC Meraviglia feature a balcony, so if you like your private outdoor space, there’s a great chance to secure your space. In fact, 30 of these balconies even feature a whirlpool bath, while another 55 have been designed for easier use by the less ambulatory and mobility challenged.
Enormous spa facility: The MSC Aurea Spa offers 19 different massages, 18 different body treatments and 26 different styles of facials. The thermal rooms are another world again, with a salt relax room, ice waterfall, sauna and dark sensory steam bath.
Hair treatment for men and women: Most cruise ships offer a hair salon, which in this case is a Jean Louis David facility where ladies can choose from 23 different hair treatments performed. For the gentlemen, there’s a dedicated barbershop to get a quick trim.
When you’re hungry, you’re hungry: Whether it’s dinner time or not, there’s fresh food being served up either at the restaurants or the buffet for an amazing 20 hours every day.
Twelve different restaurants: The selection includes ‘The Butcher’s Cut’, an American style steakhouse; The Brass Anchor, an English pub; The Kaito Sushi Bar & Teppanyaki restaurant with four grills; three Italian restaurants, an enormous Marketplace Buffet, two main general dining rooms and much more.
Mozzarella made on site: What Italian ship wouldn’t have pizza? Expert chefs will be making the very mozzarella which gets used on the ship’s pizza rotation in front of your eyes via a fresh production area which guests can peer in and see in action.
So much chocolate: Well-known pastry chef Jean Philippe Maury has designed and trained crew in his techniques for use in the first chocolate atelier and creperie at sea. So if your sweet tooth is clouding your thoughts and you need a fix, it won’t be far away.
Wristbands for purchasing: A special NFC bracelet is issued to all guests upon check-in and this effectively becomes the key to your holiday. This bracelet is also used to board and disembark from the ship, make general purchases, book tables at restaurants, reserve seats at shows and even open the door to your stateroom.
Clean and green: MSC Meraviglia has been built with exhaust scrubbers installed to nullify pretty much all emissions. Believe it or not, seawater is a natural neutraliser to the emission generated by sulphur fuels and these clean systems in place allow MSC to save thousands of tonnes of fuel each year and significantly lowering its pollution levels.
Kids can’t get lost: The ship is fitted with Bluetooth Beacons which react with the bracelets worn by your children. So through the MSC Cruises app, you can geo-locate your children if they happen to run off or lose you in a crowd. This only works onboard the ship though.
Virtual shore excursions: Brochures, websites, descriptions & photos only do so much to help you choose what you’d like to do in each port. Meraviglia offers Virtual Reality headsets which you can put on to get a brief taste of what each tour will entail. It’s effectively a way to do your tour before reaching shore, but in reality it will only whet your appetite for more.