MSC Meraviglia is the first in MSC Cruises’ new fleet of Meraviglia Class vessels. Sara Macefield joined the christening ceremony in Le Havre to find out what it has to offer

MSC Cruises MSC Meraviglia Le Havre christening

MSC Cruises’ new flagship MSC Meraviglia packs a hefty punch in the style stakes with glitz and glamour running from bow to stern.

Hailed as the largest cruise ship ever to be built by a European cruise line, accommodating more than 5,700 passengers, the 13th ship in MSC’s fleet made its debut in grand fashion after being named by screen legend Sophia Loren at an extravagant ceremony in the French port of Le Havre.

Like its sister ships, MSC Meraviglia is full of innovative attractions mixed with show-stopping Italian flair that reflects its continental heritage, but on a much larger scale.

The main centre-piece is the new Mediterranean-style promenade, Galleria Meraviglia, where tradition and technology finely fuse together.

The street is lined with boutiques, cafés, a gelato stand and the mouth-watering temptations of the ship’s own opulent chocolate “boutique” run by renowned French chocolatier Jean-Philippe Maury.

Above is an 80 metre LED sky – claimed to be the longest at sea – that has viewers transfixed as it magically transforms into different scenes that include an oceanic wonderland of mermaids and exotic sea life.

Godmother Sophia Loren cuts the ribbon in MSC Meraviglia's naming ceremony
Godmother Sophia Loren cuts the ribbon in MSC Meraviglia’s naming ceremony

MSC Meraviglia’s lavish atrium sets the scene as soon as you embark with lashings of chrome, marble and glass, interspersed with staircases of Swarovski crystals that glitter like crushed diamonds.

It boasts the widest choice of dining options on any MSC ship, with 12 restaurants plus 20 bars and lounges. Drinkers can even down a pint in the English-style Brass Anchor Pub.

In addition to three main dining venues, guests can immerse themselves in speciality restaurants with artisanal Italian cuisine at the expanded range of Eataly spots; premium steaks at the Butcher’s Cut steakhouse; or the exotic showmanship of traditional Japanese dining at the Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant.

Entertainment has been given world-class sparkle thanks to a tie-up with Cirque du Soleil that sees two exclusive shows performed in the spectacular custom-designed Carousel Lounge at the ship’s aft.

A high-tech TV studio is the setting for talent contests and games broadcast onboard, while the expansive 985-seat Broadway Theatre will stage six new production shows.

Whizz-kids looking for more interactive treats can take their chances on hair-raising roller-coasters, battle with zombies, or go full throttle in a Formula One racing car in a set of sophisticated simulators in the Sportplex zone.

MSC Meraviglia arriving at Le Havre port to be christened
MSC Meraviglia arriving at Le Havre port to be christened

Youngsters haven’t been left out with seven different children’s areas that include the line’s biggest teen’s space, new family music activities, and a kids’ lounge modelled on a TV studio.

Families are also catered for with new modular cabins that can be connected to accommodate up to 10 people, while single travellers can stay in MSC’s first solo cabins.

Out on deck and the fun continues at the main pool area, which becomes an al fresco entertainment area at night, and the fabulous Polar Aqua Park with its twisting waterslides and ropes course.

Some of MSC’s best-loved features have been expanded and fine-tuned on MSC Meraviglia, notably the exclusive Yacht Club VIP area which stretches across three decks and the superb Balinese Aurea Spa.

The choice of attractions may be mind-boggling, but MSC has harnessed the latest technology to add a series of smart features aimed at personalising each guest’s experience; from downloadable apps that help guests plan their trips to high-tech wristbands which unlock immersive features onboard.

With so many innovative new marvels, MSC Meraviglia, which means ‘wonder’ in Italian, will easily live up to its name.

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