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Passengers on a speedboat departing from an MSC cruiseliner

A view of the MSC Sinfonia's new spray park

Waterpark on the deck of the MSC Sinfonia

Bartender on the MSC Sinfonia and mojito cocktail

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MSC Meraviglia Cruise Bookings 2017/2018/2019

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The MSC Meraviglia is a game changer for MSC Cruises, superior to the rest of the fleet and in many respects surpassing the best Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruises has to offer. The hardest thing about her is the pronunciation of her name - "mehr-ah-vee-lee-ya" - which, aptly, translates to "wonder" in English. Her onboard entertainment includes the Himalayan Bridge (our personal favourite, and no, it's not just for kids), supertubes, 4D cinema & the famous Cirque du Soleil theatre. Where some in the upper echelons of the cruise community have previously been disappointed that MSC doesn't stock their favourite steak or sushi, the Meraviglia has something for everybody's tastes. She is a beautiful ship, and everybody should take a trip on her. The Meraviglia is currently cruising in the Mediterranean, and there is a limited opportunity for South Africans to sail on her, before she leaves for the Caribbean (flights are far more expensive to the Caribbean).

We are now taking cruise bookings up to March 2019 on the MSC Meraviglia. You can check availability by filling in the form below (email cruises@southafrica.to if you're experiencing difficulties, or phone 021-531-7453).

MSC Meraviglia cruise ship docked

Timeline

  • In 2019 the Meraviglia will be based on Miami.

  • 14 June 2017. The MSC Meraviglia arrives in Valletta for the first time, and given that she is registered in Malta, this is her home port. She is the first of MSC's cruise fleet to fly the Maltese flag, but they plan to register all their future ships there. The Meraviglia will stop in Malta every week during its season in the Mediterranean.

  • June 2017 until April 2018. The Meraviglia is offering 7 night cruises in the western Mediterranean; with ports visited including Barcelona, Marseille, Genoa, Messina and Valletta.

  • 4 June 2017. The inaugural cruise from Paris (Le Havre) to Genoa; stopping along the way at Vigo, Lisbon, Barcelona and Marseille.

  • 3 June 2017. The Meraviglia is christened in the harbour at Le Havre (situated 2 hours from Paris).

MSC Meraviglia "The Eighth Wonder of the World" banner at Le Havre Cruise terminal, just before its christening

  • 31 May 2017. MSC officially takes delivery of the Meraviglia from STX France.

  • 30 March 2017. The MSC Meraviglia begins sea trials, testing the ship's ability to carry out maneuvers, maximum speed and the propulsion system. On the 30th April 2017 the 2nd round of sea trials were completed, and she is on track for her initial cruise on the 4th June 2017.

  • 22 June 2015. Sales open for MSC Meraviglia cruises' to MSC Club members, and on the 5th July sales were opened to the general public.

  • The MSC Meraviglia is the largest ship which was 100% designed and built by STX France. Whilst they also built the world's largest ship, the Harmony of the Seas, that ship was built to the specs of Royal Caribbean's Oasis class.

Inside the MSC Meraviglia

You wont get "bored" if you get on "board". MSC has massively increased the entertainment options on this ship - there is a comedy club, casino, karaoke bar, a TV studio, open air ballroom, panoramic sports centre and loads of live music venues. The water park with the Himalyan Bridge stand out visually. The pool area offers ample sunbathing space (next to the pool is a screen), and there is a spa to relax your weary bones, as well as a fully equipped gym for the more active passengers (try out the punch bag to let out any latent anger). The ship also has an American style sports bar where you can watch the game with a cold beer and a snack and also race your friends in one of the formula one simulators or play a round of ten pin bowling in the full size bowling alley.

Bowling alley on the MSC Meraviglia

One of the first things you'll see when boarding is the sparkling swarovski staircase next to the reception. At black tie events, it should be mandatory that the ladies make an entrance coming down the staircase!

Swarovski staircases on the MSC Meraviglia

A novel feature on this ship is the 96 metres long Mediterranean style indoor promenade (called "Galleria Meraviglia") which boats a digital LED sky dome, the longest of its kind at sea. The screen can transmit images of landscapes, sunrises and sunsets and the starry night sky. Under the dome, passengers can enjoy live music, restaurants, boutiques and shops - you'll think you are in a Mediterranean town, not on a ship! Three times a day there are LED sky screen shows. This is the first of MSC's ships to have a central promenade; and only Royal Caribbean has something similar on offer - our opinion is that the Meraviglia's is better than Royal Caribbean's as a result of their huge and regularly changing roof/LED screen.

LED roof on the MSC Meraviglia

Family Friendly

The kids clubs on the Meraviglia are larger and better than on other MSC ships. Royal Caribbean's Oasis class of ships sets the bar for kids entertainment; what the Meraviglia has on offer at least matches that.

All of the family facilities are found in the same area, near the funnel of the ship. The "Teen Club", is an exclusive area for the teenagers (15 to 17) to play games, watch films and attend teen discos (the arcade area doubles as the disco). There is a seperate club for the 12 to 14 year olds, called the "Young Club".

Young Club and Teen Club Posters with MSC logo at the bottom

For the younger kids, there are the Baby Club (under 3 years old), Mini Club (3 to 6 years old) and Junior Club (7 to 11 years old), with a Lego play room and many PlayStations. The build and style of these clubs has pivoted around the LEGO and Chicco brands (this is the first new ship which MSC has built since it partnered with Chicco/LEGO), which was a mastertroke decision by MSC. Chicco is an Italian maker of baby products, and they have sponsored the Baby Club. The DOREMI lounge is exclusively for family events, and there's a DOREMI Tech Lab for tech-minded children. And speaking on behalf of parents, an awesome aspect is that the kids clubs are open continuously from morning to night, rather than there being specific times when the kids must be picked up during the day.

Lego statues of 5 young girls, 3 standing and 2 sitting on a bench

The F1 simulator and bowling area is nearby, and the supertubes and Himalayan Bridge are not far away. Of course the chocolate factory is not close by - which may be a good thing!

F1 simulator on the MSC Meraviglia

Pools

There are 4 pools on the ship (if the Polar Aquapark and Solarium's are excluded from the definition of "pool"). The main pool is the Atmosphere Pool on deck 15, and is a huge 25m long; with 850 sun loungers. Next to the Atmosphere Pool is a giant screen, just to add to the atmosphere at night. The pool's design was inspired by Miami's South Beach. Children under 16 wanting to use the pool have to be accompanied by an adult.

At the back (aft) of the ship, besides the disco, on deck 16 is the Horizon Pool, where you can chill out after a hard night's clubbing. Not quite as big an area as the Atmosphere Pool, but its 140 sun loungers can still draw quite a crowd.

At the front of the ship is the One Pool complex, which is exclusively for the use of MSC Yacht Club guests.

Pool which is exclusively for the use of MSC Yacht club members

Near the back of the ship on deck 16 is the big ticket item - the Polar Aquapark - not really a pool, but there are 4 supertube slides, one of which goes over the side of the ship, and fun activities for kids, like a drum which fills up with water and tilts when full to create a huge shower, and water pistols. Simply put, the aquapark is better than anything similar on other MSC ships.

Supertube on the MSC Meraviglia going over the side of the ship

Behind the tupes is a Himalayan Bridge, (a suspension bridge) which I had hardly read about before going onto the Meraviglia, but which quickly became my favourite - surpassing even the fun I had on the supertubes. Do not be fooled into thinking this is something just for the kids, I'm 45 years old and it gave me some challenges - at the end of each stage there are two choices for the next stage, and I had to avoid the more difficult ones (until next time!). Remember to wear athletics shoes, as you won't be allowed on the bridge with slops (I found out the hard way). Whilst Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas (the world's largest ship) retains the record for the longests slide on a ship (its Ultimate Abyss), it has nothing which compares to the Himalayan Bridge.

Himalayan Bridge on the MSC Meraviglia

Here's an impression of the Himalayan Bridge from above:

Himalayan Bridge on the MSC Meraviglia

On deck number 15, at the fore end of the ship next to the MSC Yacht Club, there are a couple of whirlpools as well as an indoor pool. It's next to the Bamboo Bar, and is called the Bamboo Pool. The pool is relatively shallow - about 1.4m deep - and I could stand all the way across - but good enough to swim a number of laps - and if you want to swim laps, this is the best pool in which to do so.

Indoor pool on the MSC Meraviglia, with 2 whirlpools beside it

The Top 19 Solarium has an exclusive pool, if you categorise it as a pool - more a splash pool than a pool - see photo below:

Solarium splash pool

Here's the Horizon Pool, at the aft end of the ship:

View of the Horizons Pool on the MSC Meraviglia, with MSC flags fluttering in the foreground

Excluded from the list are the numerous whirlpools.

Whirlpool on the top deck of the MSC Meraviglia

Babies in nappies are, naturally, not allowed in any of the pools. Swim caps are not compulsory. Flip flops must be worn whilst walking around the pool. Towels you can find in your cabin.

CGI render of the Meraviglia's port side

Cabins & suites

In terms of cabins MSC Cruises has designed a ship with something for every taste, budget and family size - the ship offers 10 different cabin types. All cabins contain a hairdryer, telephone, USB port, air conditioning and a flatscreen television. In the bathroom there's complimentary shampoo, soap & shower gel. For passengers travelling in big families there are a number of options which aren't available on the MSC Sinfonia.

Inside cabins consist of single beds which may be converted into double beds, spacious wardrobe, a bathroom with a shower, interactive TV, telephone, mini bar, safe, 2 European-style electricity plugs, a USB charger and wi-fi connection is available. With a surface area of some 16 sq.m., these are the smallest cabins on the ship, but are perfectly fine if your aim isn't to spend a lot of time in the cabin.

Ocean view cabins are the same as inside cabins, but have a window with a view of the sea.

Balcony cabins are the most common type of cabin on the ship - they have a double bed & a bathroom with a shower or tub. It is some 19 square metres in size.

Family balcony cabins comprise of two connecting cabins - one inside cabin and one balcony cabin with 2 bathrooms and one balcony. This cabin type can comfortably accommodate up to 6 people.

Family ocean view cabins comprise of two connecting cabins - one inside cabin and one ocean view cabin with 2 bathrooms. This cabin can also accommodate up to 6 people.

Superfamily cabins are also two connecting cabins accommodating up to 6 people, but both are balcony cabins. One of the bathrooms has a bathtub.

Superfamily plus ocean view cabins comprise of three connecting cabins (1 Inside cabin + 2 Ocean view cabins), with 3 bathrooms, accommodating up to 10 people.

Superfamily plus balcony cabin comprise of three connecting cabins (1 Inside cabin + 2 balcony cabins), with 3 bathrooms, accommodating up to 10 people.

The Meraviglia's selection of interconnected balconies are similar to what one finds on some Royal Caribbean ships.

Suite with angle balcony - Double bed which can be converted into two single beds, air conditioning, large wardrobe, bathroom with shower, interactive TV, telephone, wi-fi connection available (for a fee), mini bar and safe. Large angle balcony with private whirlpool bath. Surface approx. 28-38 sq.m.

Duplex suite - in our opinion this two-deck-high stateroom is the ultimate suite for a fantastic cruise, just writing about it makes me want to be back there. The main/lower level has a living/dining room with a table sofa that converts into a double bed. The upper level is a master bedroom with a double bed which can be converted into two single beds (on request). Air conditioning, 2 walk-in wardrobes, 2 bathrooms (one with bathtub on the upper floor, one with shower on the lower floor), interactive TV, 2 telephones, wi-fi connection available (for a fee), mini bar, safe. Ample balcony with the ultimate winning feature of the suite - an outdoor whirlpool. Surface approx. 52 sq.m. There are 8 duplex cabins on the ship. The closest Royal Caribbean has to the Duplex are their loft suites (e.g. on Anthem of the Seas), but these don't have whirlpools.

MSC Yacht Club is being sold as a cabin category these days, rather than as an experience (the ship within a ship). If you book a cabin in this area, you can enjoy exclusive and private areas of the ship including a private club, a private sundeck, a 130 seat private restaurant, as well as a 24 hour butler service. You will also be able to take advantage of unlimted free drinks in the Yacht Club as well as in your mini-bar, concierge service and priority check-in and check-out:

  • MSC Yacht Club Inside . There are 15 inside cabins. Cabins consist of single beds which may be converted into double beds, spacious wardrobe, a bathroom with a shower, interactive TV, telephone, mini bar, safe, Nespresso type machine and wi-fi connection is available. The surface area of the cabin is approximately 16 sq.m - the same size as regular cabins.

  • MSC Yacht Club deluxe suite consists of single beds which may be converted into double beds, spacious wardrobe, a bathroom with a large shower, interactive TV, telephone, mini bar, safe, Nespresso type machine and wi-fi connection is available. The surface area of the cabin is approximately 28 sq.m. with balcony. There are 78 suites.

  • MSC Yacht Club Royal Suite - There are 2 Royal Suites. Each cabin houses 2 single beds which can be converted into a double bed, and a spacious wardrobe. There is a bathroom with a tub and shower, interactive TV, telephone and a safe. Wi-fi connection is available (for a fee). There is also a bar setup, refrigerator and Nespresso type machine, as well as air conditioning. The surface are of the suite is some 65 sq.m., with a balcony of 40 sq.m., a dining table and a private whirlpool bath.

The Yacht Club's private restaurant has been built so that it is together with the club's cabins and pool area; which is better than on the Fantasia-class vessels where it's on the other end of the ship. Here's a photo of the restaurant:

Waiters setting up tables in the MSC Yacht Club private restaurant, on the MSC Meraviglia

A GGI render  of the MSC setting sail

A nice touch are the "Do Not Disturb" and "Make Up Room" electronic buttons, instead of the traditional method of placing signboards on the door handle - photo from a balcony cabin suite.

Make up Room and Do not Disturb buttons in a MSC Meraviglia cabin

Casino Imperiale

Casino Imperiale is only open to passengers who are 18 years old or older. Its gaming tables offer blackjack, roulette, 3 card poker and Texas poker. The casino is home to 12 gaming tables, an electronic roulette table and a whopping 126 slot machines.

Casino Imperiale on the MSC Meraviglia

Technical specifications

The Meraviglia is the largest cruise ship ever constructed by a European-based cruise line (MSC Cruises are based in Switzerland).

Came into service

4 June 2017

Gross tonnage

167 600 tons

Height

65m

Length

316m

Breadth

43m

Maximum speed

22.7 knots

Number of cabins

2 244

% Balcony/Ocean view cabins

69% (always a good number)

Number of Crew

1 536

Number of Passengers

5 714

Class

Meraviglia

Dining on the MSC Meraviglia

Whereas there may previously have been some passengers who felt the cuisine wasn't to their taste, on the Meraviglia passengers are spoilt for choice with the option of 12 dining venues.

All tastes are catered for with a sushi bar, a chocolaterie, a traditional Italian restaurant, Eataly, where you can eat delicious Italian food and shop for fresh Italian produce which you can take home with you; and this is the first MSC cruise ship to have an American style steakhouse and a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant.

There are still the classic dining options, where you select either a late or early sitting, and see the same waiter each evening, and he gets to know you. Additionally, if you have purchased the Fantastica experience, you can take advantage of the "Flexi Dining" option and preselect your dining times to fit in with your acitivities. But wait, there's more! If you purchased the Aurea & Wellness Experience you can choose your dining time without a reservation being made ("My Choice Dining"). Yacht Club passenger can take advantage of free-time dining at their exclusive restaurant.

The buffet area (15th deck) is open 20 hours a day so the night owls and early birds can all fill their tummys in a more casual dining environment.

Family & Kids buffet on the MSC Meraviglia

Here's Eataly:

Eataly on the MSC Meraviglia

The Brass Anchor Pub is on the 7th deck, and offers a selection of 12 different types of draft beer:

Brass Anchor Pub on the MSC Meraviglia

And the Chocolate Bar:

Chocolate Bar on the MSC Meraviglia

Shops

The Meraviglia has 700 square metres of space dedicated to retail shopping - this includes brands such as Bally, Calvin Klein, Ferragamo, Gucci Jewellery, Lancome, Omega, Salvatore and Ulysse Nardin. The shopping experience will be enhanced through promotions to the passengers' MSC for Me app.

The ship for all seasons

The MSC Meraviglia is able to dock at any cruise port around the world, making it possible for exciting itineraries to be planned for her in the years to come. She is also built for any season, featuring a new layout of internal and external areas, so that guests can enjoy cruising in any weather conditions.

CGI render of the starboard side of the MSC Meraviglia

Decks

Deck 19
Pyramids

MSC Yacht Club Open Area Pool & Bar, solarium & whirlpool.
Kids area (Baby Club Chicco, Mini Club Lego, Juniors Club Lego, Young Club, Teen Club, Doremi Lab, Doremi Studio).
Polar Aquapark.
Himalayan Bridge.

Deck 18
Pyramids

MSC Yacht Club Restaurant & cabins.
Sky Lounge (plays jazz music at night).

Deck 16
Iguazu

Top Sail Lounge, MSC Yacht Club cabins & concierge area.
Jogging / Power Walking Track & MSC Gym.
4D Cinema, Flight Simulator, F1 Simulator, TV Games, Bowling, Sportplex & Sports Bar.
Horizon Amphitheatre & Horizon Pool.

Deck 15
Tour Eiffel

Cabins.
Solarium, Bamboo Pool, Bamboo Par.
Atmosphere Bar North, Dancing floor, Atmosphere Pool, Atmosphere Bar South & Atmosphere Ice Cream Bar.
Marketplace Buffet & Marketplace Buffet Bar.

Deck 14
Angkor Wat

Cabins.

Deck 13
Kilimanjaro

Cabins.

Deck 12
Grand Canyon

Cabins.

Deck 11
Acropolis

Cabins.

Deck 10
Hagia Sophia

Cabins.

Deck 9
Alhambra

Cabins.

Deck 8
Machu Picchu

Cabins.

Deck 7
Taj Mahal

MSC Aurea Spa.
Brass Anchor Pub and TV Studio & Bar.
Galleria Meraviglia, Kaito Teppanyaki, Butcher's Cut, Champagne Bar and the Meraviglia Library.
Casino Imperiale.
Carousel Lounge.

Deck 6
Petra Deck

Broadway Theatre.
Boutique shop, Fine Watches & Jewellery, Meraviglia Bar & Lounge, Food Market and Jean-Philippe Chocolate & Coffee.
Jean-Philippe Crepes & Ice Cream, Ristorante Italiano, Excursion Point, Perfumes & Cosmetics and Watches & Sunglasses.
Fashion Jewellery, Edge Cocktail Bar and Photo Shop & Gallery.
L'Olivo d'oro & L'Olive doree (main restaurants, included in the fare)
Panorama Restaurant.

Deck 5
Colosseo

Broadway Theatre.
Cabins.
Business Centre, Excursion Office, Infinity Atrium and Infinity Bar.
Waves Restaurant.

Shore Excursions

The excursion point is on deck 6, the Petra Deck. If you are like me, wanting to sometimes do your own thing rather than go on an organised excursion, then the fantastic news is that MSC Cruises has started a "Port Info" service, which provides a support service, helping guests to customise their own trips - explaining what there is to see (local events as well as regular tourist attractions), how to get there, and when to go. This is especially useful in those countries where passengers don't understand the local language. Where possible, the ship's time at ports will be adjusted so that guests have the time to fully attend and enjoy local events. MSC developed the Port Info service together with local tourism bodies at the different ports they visit. New activities include:

  • At Barcelona: visit the city's amusement park.

  • At Messina: (1) see the Villare famr, and stroll through it barefoot; (2) pay their respects at the Cristo Re church.

  • At Genoa: a tour of marine laboratories where passengers can view jellyfish and plankton farming.

  • At Naples: (1) pizza baked on geothermal rock; and (2) a visit to Pompeii.

MSC's Port Info launch is the first time a large cruise liner has offered this services (luxury liner, Azmara, has previously invited the local tourism entity to board its ships and show passengers what's on offer).

"Cirque du Soleil at Sea"

MSC Meraviglia guests can look forward to the once in a lifetime experience of two new Cirque du Soleil shows which have been put together especially for MSC Cruises - they are each 40 minutes long and are called "Sonor" and "Viaggio", each of which involves 15 performers and is 35 minutes long. As the words suggest; Sonor is an auditory experience whilst Viaggio is a visual experience. Viaggio is about an artist looking for a muse, but the plot line isn't important - it's just used to showcase the acts - e.g. juggling, flying bikes and acrobatics - wrapped within an explosion of colour. Sonor's nominal plot is about somebody evil who wants to steal sound.

The shows are only held on Meraviglia class boats - MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview, MSC Meraviglia and the last ship in the series (still to be named), and will run for a whopping 10 years on each; with 2 shows a night, 6 nights a week, being performed. The MSC ships are the only ships in the world offering Cirque du Soleil shows. About a month before her christening on the 3rd June 2017, Cirque du Soleil actors began practising onboard - to get their sealegs and to finetune the art of doing the act at sea on a moving ship.

The MSC Meraviglia will become the first cruise ship to have an entertainment lounge (called the "Carousel Lounge") purpose-built in collaboration with Cirque du Soleil specifically to meet their needs to host their shows on board. The lounge can accommodate 413 passengers at each sitting; with an on-site dinner service being available for each performance, accommodation up to 120 lucky passengers for each show. The lounge was designed by Marco De Jorio, and features a circular stage. The name "Carousel" evokes one's memories as a child of festive outdoor fairs; with the word carousel referring to a parade where riders follow agreed figures or paths, often to music, and is also the place where the parade is held. Alternatively, it can refer to a merry-go-round (the definition with which South Africans may be most familiar) or a rapid succession of people or things that are intertwined.

Passengers may pre-book tickets prior to the cruise, or book whilst onboard if there is still availability (the price is not included in the initial price of the cruise), with the day and sitting confirmed once on board. Bookings are made on a first come first served basis, and you can select whether to bundle a cocktail or dinner in with your show's booking. Once on board bookings are made on the cabin ITV, interactive screens, the MSC for ME App or the information point at the entrance to the Carousel Lounge (on deck 7). The show is fantastic, the only pity being that having to pay extra for it detracts from the philosophy of operating all-inclusive entertainment on cruises (but those who don't do the shows will be relieved that they're no longer cross-subsidising them!), .

There are 2 prepaid packages:

  1. DINNER + SHOW: An exclusive table d'hôte menu (if you're not familar with the French, table d'hôte is a multi-course meal with only a few options at a fixed price) offering an eclectic selection of creative dishes will be served pre-show, before the breathtaking Cirque du Soleil immerses our guests in wonderland. The package includes a three-course menu with a choice of main course only (meat, fish or veggie). The starter and dessert will be a set choice. Mineral water is included in the package; and on extra payment champagne and wine are available. The day of booking will be confirmed on board.

  2. DRINK + SHOW: MSC's signature cocktail "Mediterranean Dream", prepared with or without alcohol for guests to enjoy while watching the amazing Cirque du Soleil show. The package includes drink only. The day of booking will be confirmed on board.

Children over the age of 3 are allowed to attend, and are priced as adults, with a dedicated kiddies menu being available. Children under the age of 3 may attend if seated on the lap of a parent/guardian (there is no space for baby chairs and strollers), but will be asked to leave if the infant isn't comfy.

A CGI render of the MSC Meraviglia cruising on the ocean

Christening

Be warned - if you go for a cruise on the MSC Meraviglia you're not going to get much sleep - there are simply too many awesome activities. We were lucky enough to be invited to the Christening of the MSC Meraviglia on the 3rd June 2017:

Invitation to the christening of the MSC Meraviglia in Le Havre

The MSC Meraviglia will be berthed at: Pointe de Floride, Cruise Terminal Le Havre, Quay Roger Meunier, 76059 Le Havre, France.

Map of Le Havre showing the route to the harbour

Bracelet

After boarding on the 2nd Jun 3017; a colour coded bracelet is delivered to your cabin during the evening; which provides access to the ship and serves as your cabin key for the Christening event on the 3rd June, and should be worn at all times. This will not be activated until the morning of the 3rd June. The bracelet is also required for disembarkation and access to the quayside Christening Ceremony. The bracelet is colour coded, which will help guide you around the various elements of the event.

Programme of events

Friday 2nd June 2017:

  • 02:00 pm - 04:00 pm Terminal Check-in
    02:00 pm
    On board activities, thematic ship tours and the opportunity to explore the ship

  • 05:45 pm - 06:30 pm Cocktail and Dinner

  • Starting at 08:45 pm Broadway Theatre MSC Show

  • From 10:00 pm All lounges entertainment

  • 11:00 pm Just for Fun Casino

Saturday 3rd June 2017:

  • From 09:00 am Breakfast at Buffet & Restaurants

  • 10:00 am - 06:30 pm On board activities and the opportunity to explore the ship

  • 06:30 pm - 07:30 pm All lounges Gala Cocktail

  • 07:45 pm - 08:30 pm Disembarkation to the Christening Ceremony Area* *For your comfort it is advised that all hand baggage is left in the cabin at this time.

  • 07:45 pm - 10:10 pm Christening Ceremony & Fireworks

  • 10:15 pm Return on board

  • 10:30 pm Restaurants Gala Dinner** **Because the Gala Dinner will be served late in the evening, we invite all guests to frst attend the Gala Cocktail served in all the onboard lounges.

  • From 11:30 pm All lounges entertainment, Attic Disco & Just for Fun Casino

  • 00:30 am Broadway Theatre MSC Show

Sunday 4th of June 2017

  • Before 09:00*** am Breakfast at Buffet & Restaurants

  • By 09:00*** am Disembarkation Christening Guests
    ***We apologise for the early timing but this is due to safety and security requirements for the inaugural cruise.

Cruise Ticket

" Dear Traveller,
I would like to thank you for choosing MSC Cruises. We are honoured to have you on board MSC Meraviglia. MSC Cruises is the world's largest privately owned cruise company. Our passion for what we do is the passion of a family that has sailed the seas for generations. And we express it through the attention to detail that every guest deserves. The kind of detail that makes you curious, gets you excited, or gives you a smile you'll never forget. On board, you'll discover our unique recipe for making people happy, based on our commitment to quality, our expertise in everything we do, and above all our dedication to making every moment special. In the remaining pages of this personalised ticket and cruise booklet, you will find all the information you need to prepare for your holiday, embark smoothly and enjoy a wonderful experience. Because the journey you are about to embark on is not just any cruise, it's an MSC Cruise.
I wish you a fantastic holiday
Pierfrancesco Vago
Executive Chairman MSC Cruises. "

Embarkation form for the MSC Meraviglia

Here's the itinerary for our cruise - it's quite simple - just sitting tight in Le Havre! We were blessed to being afforded a balcony cabin - thank you MSC Cruises South Africa for arranging that!

What is included in the cruise price:

  • DINING & DRINKS: Gourmet dining in the dining style of your choice (flexi or classic)*, Free in-cabin breakfast, ,24-hrs room service without any delivery charge**, Multi-gastronomy buffet open 20 hrs a day.

  • WELLBEING: Unlimited access to Fitness Centre, Free use of all Open-Air Sports Facilities, 50% discount on fitness classes and personal trainer.

  • LEISURE: Best cabin available, Unlimited use of pool area, Broadway-style theatre shows and varied live music for adults, Special Kids events for ages 3 to 11 - Contact the Mini Club for full information.

  • Participation in all entertainment events with a constantly-changing choice every day.

  • Souvenir gift to treasure the special moments of your cruise available at the Photo Shop after the Mediterranean Night.

* Dining style can be changed on board (only once, subject to availability). Once on board, please make sure to check, on a daily basis, your assigned restaurant and dinner times on the cabin ITV, APP and on the interactive screens. Time slot (or the closest) is assigned for the whole duration of the cruise and can be changed on board on a daily basis by 4p.m. (subject to availability).
** On Caribbean cruises only, a small charge is made for nighttime room service between 23:00 and 06:00 hrs

We were issued with vouchers for our shore excursion in Le Havre, and for our transfers from the airport to Le Havre, and from Le Havre back to Paris:

The ticket informed us that we could:

  • book excursions prior to boarding on international cruises (but not South Africa cruises).

  • purchase an all-inclusive drinks package.

  • book a session in the MSC Aurea Spa

  • buy a prevension package (involves an electrocardiogram test, a blood pressure test, a lipid panel; and tips for improving your health).

Bucket of Heinekens at a bar on the MSC Meraviglia

MSC's description of the MSC Meraviglia:

Prepare to be dazzled by the extraordinary design, user friendly technology and spectacular entertainment opportunities of MSC Meraviglia, the ship for all seasons. You'll never be short of things to do on board, thanks to the wide variety of state-of-the-art leisure and recreation facilities. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Pamper yourself with a Balinese massage or a beauty treatment in the MSC Aurea Spa, stay in shape in the panoramic fitness centre or savour a refreshing swim in one of the pools.

  • Take a relaxing stroll down the 96-metre long indoor promenade and gaze up at the inspiring visual display on the longest LED dome at sea.

  • Browse the boutiques for the designer clothes, top brand perfumes and cosmetics, jewellery, original gifts and souvenirs.

  • Treat your palate to a mouthwatering culinary journey in our speciality restaurants, from superb steaks and award-winning Japanese sushi to gourmet "Slow Food" from Eataly. And for dessert lovers, sweet treats are guaranteed in the Jean-Philippe Maury Chocolaterie, an award winning pastry chef from France owning several pasty shops in the USA.

  • Savour dinner while watching an exclusive Cirque du Soleil show in the Carousel Lounge, enjoy a glamorous evening in the casino* or tango the night away in the open-air dance hall.

  • Experience high-tech thrills on the twin Formula 1 simulators, or test your skills in the 10-pin bowling alley.

  • Socialise in the stylish bars serving international beers, local wines and cocktails inspired by each port of call, along with tasty tapas and finger food. With 47 bottled beers and 12 different draught beers, it'll take you a long time to try them all!

And a reminder of spending limits: * You may charge up to a maximum of Euro/Dollar 2,000 per day to your onboard bill or as much as the amount available on your Cruise Card, if using a cash deposit.

On-board Payment methods: "The Cruise Card and the MSC for ME wristband eliminate the need to carry cash on board, giving you access to all products and services available. You need to register your credit/debit/pre-paid cards at a Cruise Card Activation Point, if you haven't already done it through the app or the web check-in. You can also leave a cash deposit at the Reception - Guest service. Please remember to bring your credit/debit card and PIN code and ensure your card is enabled for use abroad."

Things not to pack (all forbidden on board): alcohol, firearms, sharp objects such as blades and scissors over 4 inches in length, flammable and explosive material, prohibited Items with heating elements or open flames (such as clothing irons, kettles, hotplates, candles, incense), drones, food or beverage.

Things to keep in your hand luggage: travel documents and passport, money, jewellery, electronic devices, medicines, nappies, and any other valuables or items you may need at short notice.

When arriving at the cruise terminal:

  • Attach the luggage tag found in the ticket. Leave your luggage in the dedicated area and it will be delivered to your cabin.

  • Show your embarkation form included in this ticket or through the MSC for Me app and your document. You will not be allowed on board without it.

  • Proceed to the security control. Staff may search you and/or your luggage and confiscate any articles that could represent a safety risk.

MSC for Me App

The MSC for Me experience was launched together with the MSC Meraviglia. It's an app you can download on your smartphone; which allows you to check in with your smartphone, book seats for theatre, book shore excursions, and book your dinner table. The smartphone app interacts with passengers' bracelets via Bluetooth points on the ship, allowing parents to keep track of their little ones.

The MSC for ME App became available to download (free of charge) via Android's Play Store on the 2nd June 2017.

MSC for Me App

The app wanted me to log in with either my MSC Account (I don't have one) or my booking number - so I chose the booking number, and eureka, it worked. It automatically picked up my MSC Voyagers Club level, the experience booked (Fantastica) and my cabin number.

The app interacts with new advanced technology bracelets MSC has created; via bluetooth beacons on the ships (more than 3000 of them).

It listed the things to do the ship: Cirque du Soleil, Casino, Restaurants, Bars & Lounges, Shopping, Spa & Beauty, Sport & Fitness, Pools and Excursions. When tapping on one of the things to do, detailed information is provided.

My balcony cabin

My cabin, number 12009, was (logically) situated on the 12th deck (the Grand Canyon Deck) at the fore end of the ship on her port side - it's a balcony cabin category B2. What's immediately noticeable, or at least from the time you take your first shower, is that the shower has a hard transparent door, as opposed to the plastic sheet on other cruise liners, which clings to you as you shower. There was no bath.

Casino night

Casino night was absolutely fantastic - all I can say is "bravo bravo bravo"! We had a 500 Euro fun game with imagninary money, and whoever had the most chips at the end of the evening won. I was up about 700 Euros at one point, but then gave it all back when I started betting big (got to take chances if you want to be the person with the most chips overall at the end of the night - somebody is bound to be lucky!). Because it was pretend-money it wasn't a big deal losing it! I'm a keen blackjack player, and the rules were fantastic - can surrender your bet, can double on your 3rd card, 21 against a card which wasn't the 10 or ace immediately won - and before you run off to the casino, you can be pretty sure those are not the official rules (but if official you'll catch me there again any day!). There was a deck of about 6 packs (I didn't ask, but estimated it) with no shuffling machine, so card counters can do their thing (my mental arithmetic isn't up to the challenge anymore). At the blackjack tables the staff are super-friendly, and of course it's also an occasion to get to know the other players, and after the game, I went up to the disco with a few of them - I loved hearing foreign accents, and was impressed at how all attempted to speak english (I'm a big fail at other languages). I also played a few rounds of roulette, not my game but I had fun and won some chips there.

Disco area

The disco area was jam-packed when I wandered there at 01h00 - the dancing took place next to the formula 1 simulation vehicles, on what doubles as a sport court (it was great, feeling a bit like a high school disco in the school hall) - the 'Sportplex'. . The bar was very busy, taking about 20 minutes to make one's way through the scrum of people and get a drink, and I do worry that when the ship is full (it's not for this event) that they'll struggle to cope - although granted, drinks were free on this cruise and people were festive so more likely to party at the disco.

Cocktails

Drinking cocktails is mandatory on a cruise - here's a photo of a fruit punch cocktail I drank at the Bamboo Bar, with a ginger depth charge at the bottom:

Fruit punch cocktail

I found the Bamboo Bar rather pleasant, not as busy as the other bars on the ship, and overlooking the indoor swimming pool and a couple of whirlpools. It had a variety of fresh juices on offer.

Hard tack drinks at the Bamboo

And here's a mojito, being mixed in the exclusive the bar at the exclusive MSC Yacht Club:

Mojito being mixed at the MSC Yacht Club

Here's a fruit punch with the casino bar in the background:

Fruit punch cocktail with the Meraviglia's casino bar in the background

Internet

I got an internet voucher: ISUCHRIS - SURFER DAY: ACCESS TO SOCIAL NETWORKS, CHAT APPS, EMAILS AND WEB BROWSING(NO AUDIO AND VIDEO). FOR 24H UP TO 500 MBS+AN EXCLUSIVE 20% MORE DATA (TOTAL AMOUNT 600 MBS).

I was able to get it to work on my laptop, but not on my phone, even with asking the friendly personell at reception to assist; however I was the only person with that issue - everybody else seemed to be getting theirs up and running. The internet speed is slow - I tried a Facebook phone call, and with video on it crashed. Skype was blocked, as was Netflix and Primevideo (all media streaming is blocked), and you couldn't ftp files up - other than that; if all you want to do is browse the internet and keep up with emails, it works fine, albeit a bit slow.

MSC web page unavailable error message

Staff at the Reception

The staff working at the reception are all heroes. They work their fingers to the bone, often working with difficult clients, and are the port of call for any and all queries - this was obvious from the moment we boarded, when we went to reception to find out meal times, and an English-speaking passenger was chewing them out: "I know that this is your first day, and you're still learning, but really I've got to go and work."

Link to large picture of the reception staff working with cilents on the MSC Meraviglia

Christening Ceremony

Here's a photo of the christening cermenony with the day's hero, the MSC Meraviglia, in the background:

Christening ceremony of the MSC Meraviglia - audience in foreground, ship in background

For a Swiss-Italian company, the christening ceremony was surprisingly French - ceremony in Le Havre, speeches in French, a French singer and a highlight of the ceremony was the performance of Kids United, a bunch of young French children, singing Michael Jackson's famous "Heal the World".

The other highlight, of course, was Sophia Loren cutting the ribbon to smash a champagne bottle against the side of the ship and christen the MSC Meraviglia.

From outside the ceremony tent, here's a photo of the Meraviglia with the flags flying in the foreground being the EU flag, Le Havre Port flag and the French flag:

MSC Meraviglia at dock in Le Havre, with 3 flags in the foreground: European Union, Port of Le Havre and France

Formula 1 Simulator

I had a blast trying out the F1 Simulator on the Meraviglia. It takes a little while to figure out, as the gear changes occur on the steering wheel & the reverse gear (yes, I needed to use it!) is a seperate button; but once I got going the fun was out of this world. Whilst MSC has installed a F1 racing car simulator on its Fantasia-class ships (MSC Fantasia, MSC Splendida, MSC Divina and MSC Preziosa), the Meraviglia is the first MSC ship to be outfitted with two simulators (side by side) where you can race each other.

 

MSC Sinfonia's pool on the deck

A view of Maputo's skyline

Venice's harbour

A pink fruit cocktail with a green straw

Fruit cocktail with a yellow straw

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