The main premise of "La Dolce Vita" (Italian for "the sweet life") is a new class of accommodations for these two vessels -- the line's biggest ships ever, measuring 133,500 tons and carrying over 3,000 passengers: 100 cabins on each will offer dedicated butler service, a first for the line. These select staterooms will also come with their own reception area, pool and solarium, plus private access to the health center and spa.
MSC's move to add exclusive accommodations -- a "luxury" experience on an otherwise "mainstream" vessel -- follows an industry trend. Celebrity Cruises' Concierge Class cabins, for example, are premium oceanview staterooms with plusher furnishing and priority luggage service, among other perks. Norwegian Cruise Line offers Courtyard Villas on Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Jewel and Pride of Hawaii; these multi-room suites come with butler service and surround a private pool and sun deck. And Italian line Costa Cruises, MSC's chief competitor, recently introduced spa cabins onboard CostaConcordia; booked passengers get treatment packages, special in-room bath products and direct access to the Samsara Spa facility.
At this point, it's unknown whether "La Dolce Vita" will be expanded to other ships in the fleet. A spokeswoman for the line tells us that for now, the concept is only planned for Fantasia and Serenata as these two post-Panamax ships are designed to accommodate it.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor