It's finally here! In April 2023, MSC Cruises dramatically increased its presence on the U.S. East Coast by moving the 2017-built, 5,700-passenger MSC Meraviglia from its previous home in Port Canaveral, Florida to New York.
Festivities surrounded the ship's arrival at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook. But Cruise Critic went deeper and recently sailed aboard MSC Meraviglia in the Caribbean to catch up withe the ship in advance of its New York redeployment. Here's what cruisers should know about MSC Meravllia's New York sailings.
MSC Meraviglia now offers cruises running between six and 11-night cruises from New York, sailing to the Caribbean, Canada & New England, and Bermuda.
Caribbean voyages run between seven and eight nights in duration, with calls on Nassau and MSC's own private island in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.
Bermuda itineraries are six nights and spend three days docked at King's Wharf, Bermuda, bookended by a series of relaxing sea days to and from New York.
MSC Meraviglia's Canada & New England sailings are possibly the most diverse. These cruises will last either 10 or 11 nights in duration, and will feature calls on a number of ports, including Boston, Portland (Maine), Charlottetown, PEI; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; and Saint John, New Brunswick -- home to the incredible tides at the Bay of Fundy. MSC Meraviglia's 11-night sailings offer an additional port stop in Newport, Rhode Island.
MSC Meraviglia offers great fun for the entire family -- and, indeed, you'll see plenty of families with little ones onboard, thanks largely due to the ship's fantastic children's facilities on Deck 18. These include the Doremi Club, the Doremi Lab, Junior and Mini Lego Clubs (complete with a full-size assortment of Lego figures situated on a bench outside the facility), a teen's club, and an adjacent sports complex. Plus, the ship's thrilling waterpark -- the Polar Aquapark -- is located just one deck above, meaning diversions for kids (and the young at heart) are never far from reach.
Adults, of course, have plenty of diversions to look forward to, from the clubby Brass Anchor Pub on Deck 7, to the sinfully delicious offerings at the Jean-Philippe Chocolate and Coffee Bar on Deck 6, which incidentally offers some of the coziest, oceanview seating on the ship.
The weather can get inclement on the Bermuda and Canada and New England runs from New York, but fortunately, MSC Meraviglia has both indoor and outdoor pool areas onboard, plus some of the best views around.
Our late-January 2023 cruise aboard MSC Meraviglia showcased a ship that is in pristine condition, from staterooms to public areas and outer deck spaces. The ship sparkles just as it did when we sailed on it back in 2017, and one has to try with great difficulty to find any hint of wear or tear on the ship, even in high-traffic areas.
However, passengers embarking MSC Meraviglia in the short term should be patient with the hardworking crew, who are doing their best despite being obviously understaffed. Bars are a particular pinch-point, and drink service can take a decent amount of time for orders to be fulfilled.
However, we sailed on a four-night cruise to the Bahamas; expect MSC Meraviglia's longer sailings to attract passengers who aren't quite so glued to the ship's bars and lounges.
MSC Meraviglia's stay in the Big Apple is just one of the many developments MSC Cruises has in store for the North American market, including the revelation that its newest forthcoming flagship, MSC World America -- sister-ship to the new, LNG-powered MSC World Europa -- will be based in the United States when it debuts in 2025.
Until then, MSC's presence in the United States is solidified with sailings of five ships, from New York, Port Canaveral (for Orlando) and PortMiami.
Frequent New York-area cruisers are already well used to the cruise terminals in Manhattan and across the river in New Jersey, at Cape Liberty. Until now, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook was primarily the domain of Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and Princess sailings, as well as smaller international ships.
By making Brooklyn its home, MSC Meraviglia has staked a claim in making this terminal better known among mainstream cruisers. While there's no subway stop at the cruise terminal, there is plenty of parking. If you're staying the night before, there are some good boutique hotels in Red Hook, which has long been a popular tourist area. And finally, the Red Hook terminal is actually a shorter distance from JFK airport than the one in Manhattan (and it's not all that far from LaGuardia either). Since MSC is a line that often attracts international guests, such promixity to major airports is key.
Plus, the views leaving the harbor are still magnificant.