According to cruise industry Web site cruise-community.com, MSC Splendida, the latest ship from Italy-based MSC Cruises, will feature onboard bowling. MSC is taking a cue from Norwegian Cruise Line, whose Norwegian Pearl introduced the concept to modern cruise travel in late 2006 with the addition of nearly full-size bowling alleys (a spokesperson tells us the lanes are 12 inches shorter than regulation). NCL's alleys are also a fixture on Norwegian Gem (2007) and the massive new-build Norwegian Epic (due out 2010). Looking further back, French Line's classic ship SS Ile de France, which launched in the 1926, had a bowling alley.
However, MSC Splendida will feature two miniature ten-pin alleys with smaller lanes than NCL's, designed to fit in its sports bar. The bowling balls will also be smaller and lighter than usual, suitable for children and amateurs to the sport. And, thanks to a special bowling surface, there's no need to don special bowling shoes (NCL's alleys require the iconic shoes).
Another company that's set its sights on bowling is Baltic Sea-based cruise ferry operator Stena Line, which offers a bowling simulation game on its Stena Saga. Players throw the ball the first few meters into a receptacle; sensors pick up speed, spin and direction, and determine how many pins were knocked down.
MSC Splendida, the second in MSC Cruises' 133,500-ton, 3,300-passenger Fantasia class of ships, will be christened on July 12 in Barcelona.
--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor