(11:25 a.m. EDT) -- MSC Cruises has launched a new, free port information service for passengers onboard its newest ship, MSC Meraviglia -- with plans to roll it out fleetwide.
The Port Infodesk gives passengers personal expert advice on what to see, where to eat, where to visit and how to get there. The desk will also help passengers book local transport such as train tickets, taxis or car hire, or create private tours and experiences.
It is the first time a mainstream cruise line has offered this service, though luxury line Azamara does invite the local tourist board onboard its ships when in port.
MSC has developed the service through direct links with local authorities and tourism boards, giving guests the most accurate and up-to-date information, as well as local insights and 'must-see' attractions.
Port Info crew members have been trained by the local experts so that they can offer tailored information and advice from personal experience.
The desk will also highlight local events, festivals and parades allowing passengers to discover the local culture and traditions.
The line is even considering adjusting ship departure times to fit in with a special event.
MSC has also added 19 new shore excursions, five of which are exclusive to MSC Meraviglia. These excursions have been especially developed for families and food lovers.
Gianluca Suprani, Head of Global Port Development and Shore Side Activities, said: "Not only are we introducing new and exclusive shore excursions, but our new Port Info service is something truly ground-breaking, not offered as a complimentary service by any other cruise line."
--By Adam Coulter, Managing Editor, U.K.