MSC Bellissima Entertainment & Activities
The London Theatre (Deck 6) is a 975-person, Broadway-style theater at the front of the ship that hosts six different shows a week, three times a night. Most of these are revue-style performances with lots of energetic dancing and music through the ages or themes, for example "Pink," a tribute to the finest women composers and singers in popular music; "Ritmo," where the music is Latin-inspired; or "Solid Rock," which showcases popular rock music. Note that even though all shows are free, you have to reserve; show times are at 7:45 p.m., 9:15 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.
During the day the theater is used as a gathering place before shore excursions, for port guide presentations and the safety drill (worth noting that MSC Cruises, like a number of European lines, embarks and disembarks passengers from every port during the cruise, so there are safety briefings every day). Once per cruise, the in-house "Kelly & Kloe On Board" takes place here.
Carousel Lounge (Deck 7) is situated at the back of the ship (you have to go through the casino) and is the bespoke theater created for and designed by Cirque du Soleil. The stage is round, with seats ranged around it in a semicircle with a raised bar area on one side. All along one wall is a long, flowing LED screen, on which projections are shown throughout the shows.
Cirque du Soleil launched its first productions at sea on sister ship Meraviglia, and Bellissima sees the debut of two more original 45-minute shows. As with most Cirque du Soleil shows, it doesn't really matter what the plotline is, it's more about gawping at the extraordinary acrobatics and mind-bending contortions.
"Valeria": "Valeria," like most Cirque du Soleil shows, has a loose plot tying together the incredible circus skills on display here. There is a tightrope artist who manages to balance on both a unicycle and a ladder and juggle at the same time, someone who juggles a giant cube and a woman dressed as a lizard who spends most of her time walking upside down on all fours. And if you get here early enough, you may also have time to interact with the "Donnie Darko"-esque rabbit and a giant rooster.
"Syma": A woman gets caught up in a storm, her boat sinks and she uses the mast as a prop on which to swing, flip and fly. But the performance that drew the most "oohs" and "aahs" came from someone dressed as a monk who uses a small pole that looks as if it is floating in front of him (it's on just-visible strings). He then proceeds to whip the pole around his body, toward the audience, up in the air and while performing a back flip. There is also a man who does amazing things with a skipping rope and a woman who juggles with her feet. Again, completely nonsensical, but a wonderful spectacle.
Performances start at 6:30 p.m. and again at 9:30 p.m. if you're having dinner before the show, or 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. if you're just doing cocktails and show. Shows run 45 minutes and alternate six nights a week.
Most of the daytime activities take place around the main pool deck. Here you will find early morning stretch classes, dance lessons, quizzes and pool party games. In the adjacent Grand Canyon (solarium), you can take part in a Ping-Pong tournament and one deck up (at the back), in the Sportplex, you'll find basketball and football tournaments.
You can take a fun Behind the Scenes Tour, which not only takes in the galleys but also the theater, storage areas and laundry room (59.99 euros per adult and 29.99 euros per child; ask at the shore excursions desk).
MSC Bellissima has a virtual reality arcade on Deck 16, which features a number of different experiences including a 4D cinema, a VR maze and two F1 simulators. There are also two bowling lanes. All these carry a charge. You can opt to pay as you play or get a Fun Pass card, which works out cheaper. There is also a video games room next door.
Bellissima is a lively ship and there is always some music or dancing going on somewhere. You'll find music in a number of spots around the ship, including the Atrium on Deck 5, the Bellissima Lounge and the TV Studio and Bar on Deck 6, and in the Sky Lounge on Deck 18.
After dinner and the main shows, karaoke kicks off in the TV Studio and dance lessons back in the Bellissima Lounge. The late-night parties take place either on the Pool Deck or in the Galleria Bellissima and can range from a White Party or 70s-themed party to a Latin Caribbean dance party.
One of Bellissima's stand-out features is the 80-meter-long LED ceiling (The Dome), which crowns the main promenade, Galleria Bellissima. Think Bellagio meets IMAX and you'll be part way there. The ceiling changes throughout the day and the Daily Program indicates when there is a "show" on, which lasts about 10 minutes and is impressive to watch.
You'll find the Imperial Casino toward the back of the ship on Deck 7. It's split in half by a wide walkway that eventually leads to the Carousel Lounge. There is a circular bar in the center and gaming tables and slots on both sides. Promotions take place every day; check your Daily Program for details.
MSC Bellissima Bars and Lounges
Bars are buzzing at night on Bellissima, with the action centered along the Galleria and the Atrium; for something more sedate, head upstairs to the Sky Lounge.
Edge (Deck 6): This bar, which leads onto the main promenade, is split by a stairwell, with seating on both sides, but the actual bar on just one side. There is table service and the coffee is some of the best on the ship.
Champagne Bar (Deck 6): Wrapped around the Atrium, with its Swarovski crystal staircases, this is the place to dress up, come for a pre- or post-dinner Champagne and do some people-watching or have your picture taken. It's very blingy.
Bellissima Bar (Deck 6): This is the main bar on the promenade where there is always something going on, whether that's dance classes or the start of the nightly parades. Bellissima Bar serves cocktails and has a dance floor.
TV Studio and Bar (Deck 7): This multipurpose space houses a TV studio that broadcasts live across the ship. It also doubles as a comedy club, and karaoke and live music venue.
Masters of the Sea (Deck 7): This English-style pub serves a wide selection of draft, craft and bottled beers, including Guinness and Newcastle Brown Ale. And if you can't decide, you can always order a yard of beer, to sample a few. There are also vodka and whiskey tasting sessions and it also offers small snacks.
Sports Bar (Deck 16): This small bar services the games area with standard drinks and free hot dogs if you buy a drink.
Sky Lounge (Deck 18): This is really the only bar onboard where you can find a quiet spot to read during the day or for an after-dinner drink. It's in a beautiful spot at the top of the ship overlooking the main pool deck. There is live music in the evening, but it's mainly classical or soft jazz. There is an indoor smoking room with a humidor adjacent.
Attic Club (Deck 18): This is a small club overlooking the basketball court, which plays dance music till very late.
Horizon Bar (Deck 18): This outdoor bar at the back of the ship is a nice spot to sit and watch the sunset. It serves the Horizon Pool area.
Arizona Bar (Deck 19): This is a small bar situated beside the water slides on the top deck. It serves a small selection of drinks including sodas, water, slushies and milkshakes.
MSC Bellissima Outside Recreation
Bellissima has four pools, three of which are open to all (the fourth is for Yacht Club passengers only).
Main Pool (Deck 15): A large, noisy, smoky (on the starboard side) area that gets extremely crowded and raucous on most days, with loud music and poolside games and dancing going on every day, all day. There are two pools connected by a shallow area in the center. Double loungers are built into the side of the pools, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are plenty more loungers set back from here.
Grand Canyon Pool (Deck 15): Just beyond the main pool area, you'll find the Grand Canyon Pool, which consists of a pool with two large hot tubs on both sides. There is a retractable roof, a bar and plenty of loungers. On the upper level are two more hot tubs, table tennis, foosball and plenty of chairs and tables.
Horizon Pool (Deck 16): A small square-shaped pool right at the back of the ship with lovely views. It is surrounded by a tiered amphitheater with loungers on the pool deck area, and tables and chairs on the tiers and beside the bar. (Note: There is a smoking area on the right.) At night this area transforms into more of a party spot.
Yacht Club (Deck 19): Yacht Club cruisers have exclusive use of a small saltwater pool and hot tub on Deck 19. There are plenty of loungers, highly attentive service and even on a sea day, this tranquil area high atop the ship is never full. Breakfast and a buffet lunch are served up here, and drinks are available all day.
At the back of the ship, high up on Deck 19, you'll find the Arizona Aquapark, which includes three water slides, a kids' splash area and the 82-meter long Himalayan Bridge, a ropes course that takes you around the side of the ship and includes two tracks side by side, one trickier than the other -- and neither for the fainthearted. The views are breathtaking.
The splash area includes a shallow pool, tiny slides, spray guns and water dunkers. The water slides twist and turn above here. You need to be 1 meter and 20 centimeters, or 4 feet, to go on these, and you have to sign a waiver at the start of the cruise.
Directly below is the Sportplex, which is a multiuse facility, mainly for basketball and football, and for kids' organized games during the day. After dark, it sometimes evolves into a disco, if the Attic Club (directly above) gets too crowded.
You'll find plenty of loungers on Deck 16, on each side above the main pool deck and stretching to the back of the ship. There are also plenty of spots right at the back, surrounding the Horizon Pool, and we did not find chair hogging to be an issue. You'll find two hot tubs up here, jutting out slightly from the ship.
There is a second, exclusive sun deck on Deck 19, available only to Aurea passengers, right at the top of the ship. Towel service is available, but you will have to get your own drinks.
MSC Bellissima Services
All the shops are on Deck 6, either at the start of the main Atrium or along the Galleria Bellissima. Here you will find a logo shop, essentials, high-end watches, handbags and other duty-free goods. There are daily promotions which you can read about in your Daily Program.
The Photo Studio is on Deck 6, while the guest services and shore excursions desks are on Deck 5, in the main Atrium.
The Wi-Fi onboard is strong but expensive at 39 euros a day. You are better off getting a full cruise package, which works out at 139 euros and you can connect up to four devices.