Sponsored by MSC Cruises
Its's not often that you get a ship perfectly suited to a homeport, but that's exactly the case with MSC Meraviglia and New York City.
MSC Cruises' 1,034-foot-long, 214-foot-tall, 19-deck megaship is one of the line's biggest, with a capacity of up to 5,700 guests. MSC Meraviglia also includes an indoor promenade – Galleria Meraviglia – lined with shops, restaurants and bars that stretches more than 300 feet and is topped with an ever-changing LED screen.
There are 20 bars, including a Champagne bar; 12 restaurants; a luxury "ship-within-a-ship" keycard-access only suite complex, the MSC Yacht Club; and a vast amount of entertainment options including dazzling shows, an entertainment complex, a basketball court and waterslides.
In fact, MSC Meraviglia is much like the city it will call its year-round homeport starting April 22, 2023 -- big, bold and brash, with a guaranteed party going on somewhere till the wee hours every night.
We take a look at why MSC Meraviglia is the perfect ship for New York City.
The "ship for all seasons" launched in 2017 and heralded a new ship class and direction for MSC Cruises (the ship won "Best New Ship" in the Cruise Critic UK Editors' Picks).
MSC Meraviglia put MSC Cruises onto the world cruise stage, positioning the line as no longer the new kid on the block but one of the industry's major players.
It also provided the blueprint for four more ships in this class -- MSC Bellissima, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Virtuosa, and the upcoming MSC Euribia – alongside the separate but simultaneous Seaside class, which was designed for Caribbean cruising.
Unlike the Seaside class, MSC Meraviglia places more of an emphasis on providing indoor entertainment, which can take the form of parties along the Galleria Meraviglia like the Tropical Party or White Night, the Carousel Lounge with its breathtaking acrobatics or all the activities on offer in the Entertainment Complex. On top of this, there is also an indoor pool covered with a magrodome, which can be closed in cold weather and opened in warm weather.
That's not to say there aren't plenty of outdoor activities (four pools, nine hot tubs, water slides, a ropes course), but if the weather is a little inclement (and let's face it, New York in April can still be a little chilly), passengers can take shelter until the ship reaches warmer latitudes.
MSC Meraviglia has some superb food options, including two which we rate as up there with the finest at sea -- Kaito Teppanyaki and the Butcher's Cut steakhouse.
Kaito Teppanyaki, which also includes a sushi bar on the upper level of the Galleria, is the best fun you can have with food at sea.
The chefs sing, fling (eggs mainly) and crack cheesy jokes as they prepare your meal, urging diners to take part with the food throwing and general silliness. My family and I always make a point to eat here at least once during the cruise – for the great food but also to say hello to the chefs.
On the opposite side of the promenade, you'll find Butcher's Cut, which serves up arguably the finest cuts of steak at sea, paired with rich, robust red wines. Of all the restaurants onboard, this is the most reminiscent of a New York steak house (deliberately so), with red banquette seating, dark wood paneling and photos on the wall all drawing on a New York look of yesteryear.
But it's the steaks that make this place, with a variety of superb cuts including a not-for-the-fainthearted 32oz Tomahawk.
We love the open kitchen set up and how the waiters come around with the cuts and explain each one.
Hola! Tacos & Cantina is great for a quick and tasty Mexican bite and Ocean Cay seafood restaurant offers superb seafood specialties, both of which are also on the Galleria.
MSC Meraviglia has 10 different cabin types to choose from, including solo cabins, interior and exterior cabins; balcony cabins, Family cabins, 55 accessible cabins, and suites.
Many of the suites are clustered in the MSC Yacht Club -- a luxury “ship within a ship” complex featuring butler service, along with a restaurant, lounge and sundeck with a private pool and whirlpool.
There are 94 suites up here, which range from an Interior to the vast 700-square-foot Royal Suites with a bedroom, living room and a massive balcony complete with hot tub.
The beauty of staying in the Yacht Club is you have all the many advantages of being on a megaship, such as a wide variety of entertainment, bars and restaurants, but once you walk through those doors into this space, you enter your own quiet haven, away from the crowds.
Apart from the VIP atmosphere, the Yacht Club is also a great value as all drinks are included along with Wi-Fi, you get to skip the line at every event (even the waterslides and on shore excursions), and you get to eat in what amounts to another specialty restaurant -- The Yacht Club Restaurant -- for free every night.
The reason MSC Meraviglia scooped an award for "Best for Families" is its incredible range and quality of kids facilities and programming, which is mirrored across the sister ships.
The stand-out feature is the kids' area, which takes up a large chunk of real estate at the top of the ship -- and here's the best part -- is entirely LEGO-themed, thanks to a partnership with the Danish bricks brand (I think many adults are tempted to join their kids in building).
Kids are split by age group, with dedicated areas for babies (who have their own link-up with Italian babywear company, Chicco), toddlers, children and teens, the latter of whom even get their own club area (no adults allowed). There's even a small theater and a tech room which includes a 3D printer.
One of the great things about this ship is although the kids club is outstanding, kids are not confined to this area; in fact, for us, it is one of the most family-friendly ships at sea with children welcomed almost everywhere (we've often seen kids dancing in the main promenade with their parents or taking part in salsa lessons in the Bolero bar) until late at night.
Below the kids' club, you'll find the entertainment complex complete with a video game room, simulated F1, a bowling alley, a VR experience and an XD cinema where you get to shoot zombies.
And adjacent to this is the sports court where family dance parties take place in the early evening.
The extensive MSC Aurea Spa offers massage therapy, body treatments, facial treatments, and in our view one of the best thermal suites at sea.
There are two steam rooms (one dark, one light); two saunas (one Finnish, one Mediterranean), a salt room, two relaxation rooms, two aromatherapy rooms, a snow grotto, a walk-through shower and two thalassotherapy pools.
Next door is a 6,000 square-foot gym featuring state-of-the-art equipment from Technogym which is in a prime spot overlooking the main pool deck.
You can also always run outside on the dedicated track on Deck 16 which runs around half the ship.
MSC Meraviglia will offer three distinct itineraries from the Big Apple from April – the Caribbean, with a stop at the line's private island of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve; Bermuda, with two or three overnights; and Canada and New England in the fall.