Costa Cruises, MSC Take Video Games to Next Level

January 22, 2009

If you or your kids can't bear the thought of a week away from the Nintendo Wii or PlayStation 3, pause the game, put down the controller, and listen up: An increasing number of cruise lines are outfitting their newest ships with gamer-friendly offerings, such as video game tournaments, hosted on huge public screens; state-of-the-art onboard racecar simulators; and, most recently, in-cabin gaming systems.

Onboard Italy-based MSC Cruises' just-launched MSC Fantasia, each of 99 Yacht Club Suites -- luxury accommodations, found in the otherwise mainstream ship's exclusive Yacht Club area -- features a Wii console with the Wii Sports package (which includes games like tennis, golf, baseball and bowling).

Meanwhile, Italian Costa Cruises -- MSC's closest competitor -- has advanced to the next level. Costa has announced that it has inked a deal with Sony and that every cabin onboard its two upcoming new-builds, Costa Luminosa (May 2009) and Costa Pacifica (June 2009), will feature a PlayStation 3 console with an on-demand game service. The choice of games has yet to be revealed, but a Costa spokeswoman tells Cruise Critic the "service" will be free. The program will gradually be rolled out, fleetwide.

Also, as part of Costa's new agreement with Sony, the poolside movie screens on Costa Pacifica and Costa Luminosa will be used for PlayStation Nights, where you can split eardrums with "SingStar," a competitive karaoke game, or participate in the interactive quiz game, "Buzz!"

Though older gaming systems like PlayStation and PlayStation 2 have long been found in children's facilities and kid-centric onboard video arcades, what's interesting about these latest additions is that they are geared to a wider range of ages. Plus, Wii and PS3 are among the hottest, newest options out there, which means these cruise lines are making a significant investment to deliver a gaming product to their guests.

Norwegian Cruise Line was the first to introduce Wii tournaments on its big screens. The offering debuted on Norwegian Pearl in 2007 and was rolled out, fleetwide, the same year. In addition, several NCL ships, including Norwegian Jade, feature VIP rooms for over-18's that are equipped with Wii consoles.

MSC and Costa also feature full-size racecar simulators on their newest ships -- and these aren't your traditional arcade racecar games. Get strapped in, put on headphones (to keep in touch with your "pit crew"), and zip through one of several courses pictured in front of you on wraparound video screens. The car wrenches as you drive, and you can almost feel the G-force.

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor

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