MSC Meraviglia goes the next step to prove that cruising really is about making the journey just as much part of your trip as the destinations…
As I sit to write this piece I am currently sat out on a balcony on the MSC Meraviglia – one of Italian cruise line MSC’s largest ships. A gentle salt spray is teasing at my hair, the sun is shining on my legs and I have an ice cold glass of champagne in my hand. I can hear the waves gently lapping the sides of the ship and I can see the cruise line’s home port of Genoa slowly appear against the horizon, the jewel-coloured houses peppered up the vertiginously high cliffs growing steadily larger as the ship heads towards the destination. It is at this exact moment I remember just why I love cruising quite so much. I have just spent seven days aboard the MSC Meraviglia on a trip that was so much better than I could have imagined. Being twenty-five, I was on the younger demographic of the cruise ship, yet the common misconception that cruises are only fit for a retirement break with cups of tea, ballroom dancing and bingo is far from the truth. In fact this divide is becoming ever smaller, with people recognising it’s a great way to travel no matter your age, and cruise companies are catering for this. MSC Meraviglia is a great example, with many facilities on board to cater for all ages – from a white night dance party out on the deck, to modern bars, a theatre, water park and luxury spa on board. Continue reading our MSC Meraviglia review to find out more about why fell in love with this ship…
My cruising journey on the MSC Meraviglia commenced in the small Italian city of Genoa – a slow paced city tucked in the Italian Riviera. If possible, try and tag a couple of days either on the start or the end of your MSC Meraviglia cruise to take in the sights and sounds of this majestic location. Seen in the City had experienced a taste of the MSC Meraviglia when heading onboard for a day in 2017, yet as we all know, a real experience can be vastly different to just a taster, so I was excited to see what this ship had to offer.
The first thing that grabbed me upon arriving at the Cruise terminal is the sheer size of the MSC Meravilgia. With a length of 316m and the capacity to hold 4,500 passengers and over 1,000 crew, this isn’t surprising.
While beautiful from the outside, the sleek white exterior does little to hint at the glamorous interior it hides behind the large ship doors. Upon first entry I was greeted by an 80m long LED ceiling screen which displays a number of different light shows and displays depending on the time of day. This Galleria Meraviglia is the centre point of the ship and the 96-metre promenade is packed with boutiques, restaurants and spots for shopping, eating and relaxing. Turn to the right and you will be dazzled by a glittering Swarovski staircase which oozes luxury in an effortless way, retaining class without being in the least bit tacky.
The ship itself is so comfortable, so accommodating it was hard to tear myself from the cocoon of luxury and indulgence to actually explore the destinations, but I was glad I did. During my trip we called at six different ports – Civitavecchia, Valencia, Palermo, Marseilles, Cagliara, Genoa and Palma. It was a week long journey round the Mediterranean, where I was to explore the bustling market stalls in Palermo – the air heavy with the scents of juicy fruits and fresh vegetables, the historic beauty of Rome, ancient tiles underfoot, tasting plates of hot, fresh pasta piled high with parmesan. I got to take in the stunning architecture by bike in Valencia and sip fruity sangia and eat tapas while watching a traditional Flamenco performance in Palma. In Marseilles I soaked up the history in ancient churches, got lost down cobbled side streets, and sipped local wine under the sun with shopping bags tucked under my chair. This is something cruising can offer unlike anything else – the chance to dip your toes in multiple cultures, experience a number of cities and destinations, all without the hassle of getting there yourself. There is something so utterly magical about going to sleep in one location, and waking up to see the silhouette of a brand new destination taking shape just in the distance, watching your approach, witnessing new scenery, new architecture, new languages – all without having moved a muscle. For cruising introduces you to a melting pot of cultures and the chance to see a taster of so many parts of the world, with minimal effort. You wrap yourself up snugly in your cabin, your belongings safely organised for your voyage, make your base, drink cocktails, eat delicious food and realise how the journey is just as important as the destination. Opposite to the way that air travel is a means to an end, cruising makes travel as much part of your holiday as the places you visit.
There are a number of different cabins on the MSC Meraviglia, from inside cabins for the single traveler, to the most luxurious yacht club suites. I stayed in a balcony cabin – and would recommend you upgrade to a balcony for your trip. There is something wonderful about having your own slice of the outdoors while sailing through the waters, or when docked, where you can marvel at the destination beyond in the comfort of your dressing gown. The room had a comfortable double bed, a sofa, dressing table and built in wardrobe. There was plenty of space – even for the fashionista in me that felt it necessary to bring three times the amount of clothes than days I was travelling for. (Better safe than sorry right?!) The bathroom is compact but functional, with a toilet, mirror, sink and shower and the dressing area is the perfect spot to get ready for dinner.
There were two formal nights on my cruise, with one “white night” which consisted of people dressing in white and there being a large White Party up on deck. It was one of the real highlights of the cruise, dancing under the stars while sailing through the water. The other formal nights were also exciting, with many changing into beautiful formal dresses and suits – it’s a real novelty to be able to get dressed up and glamorous as it’s not something we get to do that often! There were special menus in the restaurants and photographers everywhere ready to take your snaps which you can get printed on board. There is so much going on in the evenings that you will never be bored, and can make of it exactly what you want. There is the Sky Lounge which oozes class and sophistication, where you can sip from a selection of fine-crafted cocktails and listen to live classical or jazz music, or the TV studio and bar – a contemporary space where you can enjoy entertainment such as karaoke nights with a drink in hand before or after dinner.
Other bars to sit and enjoy a pre or post dinner tipple include Edge – a sleek drinks bar just off the main MSC Galleria, the Champagne bar which serves approximately 35 types of champagne and the Brass Anchor pub where you can indulge in British foodie delights such as fish and chips or a hot dog and a whole range of craft beers.
The theatre seats 985 guests with Broadway-style shows seven nights a week and a choice of three different shows each evening, offering extra flexibility to fit around dinner or other plans. I preferred to watch a show before dinner as a great introduction to the evening and the shows really were outstanding. Due to it being an Italian cruise line, to cater for the vast array of language and nationalities on board there was not much speaking, but instead beautiful visuals, acting and music which made for breathtaking shows each and every time. For another form of entertainment on MSC Meraviglia, you cannot miss Cirque du Soleil on board. Taking place in the specially designed 10,000 square foot lounge twice a night, six nights a week it is not to be missed. This is an exclusive partnership with MSC and the shows are simply breathtaking, taking cruise entertainment and upping it to whole new heights. You can also upgrade your experience to include a meal, which is worth it for something extra special one evening.
Dining wise, there are a number of restaurants to choose from, with speciality dining destinations: Italian restaurant Eataly, Steak restaurant The Butchers Cut, Japanese restaurant Kaito Teppanyaki and the Marketplace buffet, as well as the two set dining restaurants – L’Olivo D’Oro and Panorama. Each offer something unique, and you can choose packages if you want to try one or more of the speciality restaurants. I stuck with Panorama for the week and couldn’t fault the choices available, the quality of the food, or the five star service of the waiters. For breakfast I ate in the buffet and lunch usually ate while out on my excursions.
We didn’t have any sea days while on my cruise, but there was still plenty of time to explore what the ship had to offer. As well as the entertainment explained above, you can also bask in the sunshine beside the main pool, swim laps in the indoor pool, relax in one of the ships hot tubs, or beat your partner at table football. Take to the ships innovative 80 metre high Himalayan Bridge rope park at the back of the ship, before cooling off in the on-board Polar Aquapark with four water slides including a champagne bowl and a special aquaplay area for children. For those looking to get more competitive, you can visit the ships arcade where you can play virtual F1 racing or bowl in a full size bowling alley. There is also a 4-D cinema and flight simulator which is great for the whole family to enjoy. For those who want a relax on the cruise, you can head to the on board spa, offering the ultimate chance to rejuvenate. You can choose to indulge in a treatment such as a massage, or opt for a thermal spa pass. This means you can spend time relaxing in the different spa areas such as the quiet room, hot tubs, sauna and steam rooms. It is a beautiful, soothing space ideal to while away the hours when on a sea day or to relax tired muscles after a day of exploring.
MSC Meraviglia is a ship unlike anything I have experienced. It is magical, it is exciting and it offers surprises round each and every corner. There is no nook or cranny which hasn’t been refined and perfected and everything from the decor to the service is better than you could ever wish for. The ship caters for all ages, from kids clubs to karaoke, bowling alleys to champagne bars. You can gorge on limitless pizza in the buffet, or be wined and dined in one of the speciality restaurants. MSC Meraviglia offers everything you could want from a cruise and so much more. It rips up the rule book and makes cruising so much more fun than you could ever imagine. It sets the bar high for future cruises and ensures you will leave feeling refreshed, refuelled and wondering just how soon it is before you can book to head back on board. Like our MSC Meraviglia review? Let us know in the comments below!
Find out more about the MSC Meraviglia and book your own trip here.