Category Archives: MSC

MSC Seaview Will Cruise From St Maarten and Barbados

MSC CRUISES OFFER WINTER SAILINGS IN SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN

As part of a reconfirmed winter 2021/22 programme MSC Seaview will cruise from St Maarten and Barbados. From the 5th December 2021 the line is offering 7 and 14 night cruises. The amended itineraries include up to 12 hours extended stays at each destination.

The authorities in Martinique and Guadeloupe have made the decision not to allow cruise ships onto the islands yet. This decision comes as a result of the pandemic situation ashore as well as the low vaccination rates.

Health and Safety

Following a full evaluation of alternative options, MSC Cruises amended the original itinerary. To ensure a safe and healthy experience, MSC Seaview will cruise from St Maarten and Barbados.

Gianni Onorato, CEO MSC Cruises

Gianni Onorato, CEO MSC Cruises “The southern Caribbean is an area much loved by cruisers from around the world as well as local guests from this region and we have worked hard to find alternative options for the itinerary that would allow us to confirm our usual winter season here, of course supported by our industry leading health and safety protocol.

We would like to particularly thank our airline partners who have amended their charter flight schedules to serve the new itinerary to make it accessible for our guests. For this, we are still able to offer our guests an incredible cruise holiday this winter, calling at some of the most beautiful islands in the South Caribbean on board MSC Seaview – the perfect ship for sailing in these waters.”

Revised Itineraries

The first itinerary will depart the port of Philipsburg, St Maarten’s capital, and Bridgetown, Barbados; with calls at Castries in St Lucia; Saint George, Grenada; Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis, before returning to St Maarten.

MSC Seaview Will Cruise From St Maarten (pictured) and Barbados

The second itinerary will sail from St Maarten and Bridgetown; with calls at Roseau, Dominica; St John’s in Antigua and Barbuda; Road Town in Tortola and then back to St Maarten.

Tortola – One of the ports on the MSC Seaview Winter Southern Caribbean Sailings

Vaccination Requirements for MSC Seaview

All guests on MSC Seaview will have to be fully vaccinated or show a proof of negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to embarkation.

In most ports guests will be able to go ashore independently, however some destinations require guests to go ashore with an MSC Cruises protected shore excursion. More specific details will be available soon from the MSC Cruises website, travel agents and the line’s contact centre.

MSC Seaview with 2,066 guest cabins has one of the cruise industry’s highest ratio of open space per passenger and features a beach condo concept that brings guests closer to the sea thanks to special design elements that make the most of the warmer weather. For more about the ship, please see HERE.

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Wonder of the Seas Sets To Sail In Europe For 2022

MSC Group Launch Explora Journeys

New Luxury Brand

The MSC Group have announced the company’s entry into the luxury cruise market. The launch of a new brand, Explora Journeys has been created for the next generation of discerning luxury travellers.

The first of four luxury ships will set sail in 2023, with the remaining ships ready in 2024, 2025 and 2026.

Each will utilise the latest in cutting-edge maritime technology to provide journeys of discovery through destinations on and off the beaten path. Guests will be hosted on a ship like no other, with the highest level of service and amenities.

Ship Design

Designed in partnership with the world’s foremost superyacht and luxury hospitality designers, the innovative ship will seamlessly blend elegant Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship. With 461 oceanfront suites and residences, guests will enjoy striking views at sea and in port from their floor to ceiling windows and personal private terrace. Suites will start at 35 square metres which is among the most spacious for the category in the industry.

Fourteen decks will provide ample indoor public space, maximising guest choice and seclusion. Generous outdoor decks will boast more than 2,500 square metres overlooking the sea, with 64 private cabanas across 3 outdoor pools. A fourth pool, with a retractable glass roof, will allow swimming and poolside relaxation in any weather. Combined with various indoor and outdoor whirlpool baths on the ship’s promenade deck, the ship was designed with water as a focal point to put guests in an ocean state of mind.

“Explora Journeys was designed for guests who want to stay longer, leave later, and travel deeper,” said Michael Ungerer, CEO of Explora Journeys. “Explora Journeys will bring a new perspective to the travel industry, reinventing the classic cruise experience for the next generation of luxury travellers.”

Exceptional Service and Dining Options

With the perfect blend of intimate and vibrant spaces, a guest to crew ratio of 1.25 to 1 ensures anticipatory service at every turn. Tailored to suit personal preferences, flexible dining times at nine distinct restaurants will provide unrivalled variety at sea. Each venue will celebrate global culinary talents, with a focus on wholesome ingredients sustainably sourced from local partners. To make sure guests are spoilt for choice, several indoor and outdoor bars and lounges will also be available. Relaxation begins the moment a guest steps aboard, not having to reach for their wallet for any additional costs.

Wellness

Personalisation continues in wellness with a spacious indoor/ outdoor spa and fitness area on board. From treatment rooms to state-of-the-art fitness equipment, group workout classes to personal training appointments, tailor-made programmes make staying well while on holiday easy and enjoyable. Bespoke wellness experiences in each destination will make relaxation and rejuvenation easily accessible onboard and ashore.

Guided By The Sea

In partnership with Fincantieri, Explora Journeys is building ships for tomorrow, utilising the latest in environmental-supporting technologies, while being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available. The design incorporates provision for battery storage allowing future hybrid power generation, as well as the latest selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, enabling a reduction of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 90%. Built with ship-to-shore power capabilities to avoid CO2 emissions while at berth and powered by marine gas oil, all four ships will be RINA DOLPHIN certified for reduced underwater noise. Single-use plastics will not be used onboard the ship, nor will they be offered during land-based experiences, as Explora Journeys is focused on leaving a positive impression on the places and people visited.

“The MSC Family knows the sea like few others, and with that knowledge comes passion, love and most of all, a deep respect,” continued Pierfrancesco Vago. “Our ships will utilise state of the art technology to ensure we are leading the movement towards a more sustainable future. Together with our partners, we’re currently developing ground-breaking technologies that will elevate the status quo, not just for this generation but also beyond.”

Itineraries

With journeys starting at 7 nights, a best-in-class guest experience will ensure relaxed mornings and exciting evenings. Non-conventional arrival and departure times combined with overnight stays will allow Explora Journeys to offer guests exclusive access to once in a lifetime experiences. With ships that travel far north and south of the equator, itineraries in the inaugural collection will offer the ideal blend of celebrated destinations such as Saint Tropez, Bordeaux and Reykjavik, and hidden gems such as Kastellorizo, Bozcaada and the Lofoten Islands. Explora Journeys will bring guests to lesser-travelled harbours to enjoy a more authentic experience and a slower pace of travel.

A Symbolic Emblem

CFO of the MSC Group, Alexa Aponte-Vago designed the Explora Journeys logo. The pattern represents a journey of personal discovery and fulfilment. Illustrations of the lotus flower symbolise purity of body, speech, and mind, while a nod to the fleur-de-lis represents humility and a connection to European heritage. A sophisticated typeface alludes to the subtle curves of the sea.

Bookings for the 2023 Inaugural Collection will open in Autumn 2021. To learn more about Explora Journeys, please visit ExploraJourneys.com, or join the conversation @ExploraJourneys.

Recommended Reading: 7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

MSC VIRTUOSA ARRIVES IN LIVERPOOL

Biggest Cruise Ship To Call At The Port

MSC Virtuosa arrives in Liverpool

The Port of Liverpool yesterday welcomed the first call of MSC Virtuosa. At full capacity, the vessel is able to accommodate over 6,000 guests. However the 1,085ft-long ship is currently sailing with only 1,000 guests in accordance with government guidance.

Guests are welcomed aboard MSC Virtuosa (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for MSC Cruises)

Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director of MSC Cruises UK & Ireland commented “MSC Cruises is excited to be in Liverpool for the first time and we are proud to bring our new flagship MSC Virtuosa to this renowned cultural city.”

CREDIT Stratus Imagery. MSC Virtuosa Docked Liverpool

Angie Redhead, Head of Cruise Liverpool added: “We are delighted to offer guests the opportunity to join an MSC cruise in Liverpool for the very first time and as MSC Virtuosa is the largest cruise ship to ever call here, I have no doubt she will draw quite a crowd to our World Heritage Waterfront! We just know that MSC Cruises’ guests are going to love the convenience of embarking in Liverpool, whilst our amazingly friendly city will extend a warm Liverpool welcome to everyone on board.”

MSC Virtuosa, Galleria Virtuosa (Credit: Ivan Sarfatti)

Vaccination Requirements

Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests are welcome on board, as all guests are tested at embarkation. This falls under MSC Cruises’ industry-leading and proven health and safety protocol developed by a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts. This protocol was first deployed on MSC Grandiosa in August 2020 and has since helped protect thousands of guests sailing on the ship in the Mediterranean.

Guests may explore ports of call by taking part in ‘bubble’ shore excursions. These have been carefully developed to extend the comprehensive health and safety protocol, tried and tested onboard and ashore. These bubbles include;

  • Sanitised transfers
  • Tour guides and drivers in PPE
  • All guests staying within their group
  • Visits to pre-screened venues
  • Reserved areas for MSC Cruises guests

All of these measures not only help to protect the health of the ship’s guests, but also residents of the local communities where the ship calls.

MSC Cruises’ Long-Term Goal To Achieve A Zero-Impact Cruise Operation

MSC Virtuosa represents another step towards this goal as one of the most environmentally conscious cruise ships at sea. The ship features some of the most advanced technology currently available, such as shore-to-ship power to substantially reduce emissions close to urbans areas, waste management centres, a hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system, and advanced water treatment systems.

For more information and to book, visit: www.msccruises.co.uk/cruises/ships/msc-virtuosa/itineraries

MSC Virtuosa Arrives In Southampton

MSC Virtuosa Arrives In Southampton

To Restart UK Cruising

The newest and most innovative ship in MSC Cruises’ fleet, MSC Virtuosa has arrived in Southampton. She will homport here for the Summer, setting sail on 20th May. Her maiden voyages will consist of 3- and 4-night mini cruises. 7-night sailings around the UK will begin on 12th June.

An Exciting Moment

Antonio Paradiso, UK Managing Director said “The arrival of our flagship MSC Virtuosa into Southampton today is an exciting moment, as we prepare to welcome UK guests back on board from May 20th for her inaugural season around the British Isles. We are proud to be the first cruise line to set sail from UK waters this summer and offer holidaymakers the chance to experience all of the new and incredible features on board our latest and most innovative ship. ”

Image Credit: Antonio Paradiso – Facebook

Environmentally Advanced

MSC Virtuosa is one of MSC Cruises’ most innovative and environmentally advanced ships. The 19-deck ship will offer its British guests of all ages the very best of;

  • fine dining restaurants
  • world-class entertainment
  • relaxing bars and lounges
  • boutique shopping
  • spa and fitness centres
  • an aquapark and clubs for toddlers to teenagers
  • the iconic 112-metre promenade with a stunning LED sky dome

Horizon Terminal

The ship will initially set sail from City Cruise Terminal, before moving to embark guests from the newly-named Horizon terminal once it has opened.

Third Ship Back At Sea

Joining two ships already operating in the Mediterranean, MSC Virtuosa will become the third MSC Cruises ship back at sea. MSC Seaside welcomed guests back on board last week, and MSC Grandiosa has been sailing in the Mediterranean since August 2020. All ships operate under the same industry-leading health and safety protocol.

Recommended Reading MSC Virtuosa Will Restart UK Cruising

MSC Virtuosa Will Restart UK Cruising

IT’S TIME TO SAIL AGAIN

JUST ONE MONTH TO GO

MSC Virtuosa will restart UK cruising from Southampton on 20th May 2021. British guests will be first to discover one of the newest and most innovative ships in the UK this summer.

Initially, the cruise will offer 3 and 4 night mini cruises from Southampton to the isle of Portland, Dorset. From the 12 June, guests can enjoy 7 night cruises calling at Portland and Belfast. These will have embarkation points in Southampton, Liverpool and Greenock.

Here is a taste of what guests can expect onboard.

EXCLUSIVITY AND PRIVACY AT THE MSC YACHT CLUB

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, MSC Yacht Club Duplex Suite

Spread over three upper decks and linked by glittering MSC Cruises signature Swarowski crystal staircases, the MSC Yacht Club, offers the exclusive luxury of a private club. Located in the front of the ship, guests can experience the best view on board across the bow and out to sea. Two MSC Yacht Club Royal Suites with a private balcony whirlpool bath are among the gorgeous accommodation. Guests can dine in style at the exclusive, 120-seat Top Sail restaurant,  with a curated à la carte gourmet menu paired with a wide selection of wines.  The Top Sail Lounge has it’s own private pool and spacious sun deck.

A PLATE FOR EVERY PALATE

An unparalleled dining experience awaits guests on board MSC Virtuosa. There are five main dining restaurants, five specialty restaurants, 21 bars and lounges both indoor and outdoor, and globally inspired menus from all corners of the Earth. Whether guests are looking for a steakhouse, fresh seafood, Mediterranean cuisine or sushi and Asian dishes, every taste bud will be satisfied.

Making their debuts on MSC Virtuosa are two new speciality restaurants: Indochine and HOLA Tacos & Cantina. Indochine combines two culinary heritages as it brings together savoury Vietnamese classics and gives them a contemporary French twist. At HOLA Tacos & Cantina, MSC Cruises introduces its first street food dining concept, offering Latin American and Mexican inspired dishes with a selection of Tequilas and Mezquals to be savoured alongside.

For those with a sweet tooth, two-time World Champion in Pastry, Jean-Philippe Maury returns on MSC Virtuosa with Chocolat & Café and Crêpes & Gelato, two mouth-watering concepts for pure indulgence.

ROB, THE ROBOTIC BARTENDER

The star of the MSC Starship Club is Rob, the robotic bartender.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, MSC Starship Club

Rob is a humanoid robot with different facial expressions and a voice. He can move his arms, body and head just like a real person as he prepares your cocktail.

He can speak eight languages according to the language chosen when the guest makes the order.

ALL NEW TEENS LAB

This will be an immersive, tech-filled space with the latest games consoles, virtual reality and music, all just for teenagers.

Driven By The Music combines a silent disco with a juke box for kids and teens to dance their hearts out.

For young Sherlocks, Junior Detective is a game of wits, observation, and puzzle-solving, as they collect clues in search of the truth.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises

A SHOPPING LOVER’S HEAVEN

MSC Cruises’ has received accolades for Cruise Retailer of the Year 2020 and Cruise Retail Environment of the Year 2020 at the Travel Retail Awards. MSC Virtuosa, will have 11 state of-the-art boutiques housing 250 brands spread over 1,168m2 of dedicated space – the largest retail area at sea.

The ship will feature a branded MSC Foundation shop, which was the winner of the Judges’ Gold Seal for “CSR or Sustainability Initiative of the Year” at the Frontier Awards 2020. The shop offers a selection of specially crafted, high quality, sustainable pieces made from recycled plastic.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, Sky Lounge

Here are some of MSC Virtuosa’s highlights in numbers:

·        A 1,100 m2 spa with more than 20 massage treatments for the ultimate in relaxation

·        More than 17 hours of entertainment each day and over 210 different activities to choose from on a 7-night cruise

·        A 975-seater theatre with West-End style original productions and entertainment each night

·        164 slot machines and 12 tables in the Red Gem Casino

·        A 112-metre long Mediterranean-style promenade

·        10 restaurants and 21 bars

·        Five swimming pools including an indoor pool

·        The longest LED sky-screen at sea

·        Two bowling alleys and two F1 Simulators

·        A Himalayan Bridge adventure rope course 80 metres above the sea

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, solarium

Cruise With Confidence – Industry Leading Health and Safety Protocol

There are comprehensive health and safety measures in place that are designed to protect the guests and crew. However, MSC Cruises aim to preserve the unique holiday experience at every step, so guests are able to relax and enjoy their holiday with the confidence. To find out more visit: www.msccruises.co.uk/health-and-safety-measures

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – MSC Virtuosa, Marketplace Buffet

Environmentally Advanced Technology

As one of MSC Cruises’ most environmentally advanced ships, MSC Virtuosa reinforces MSC’s commitment to protect the seas and communities. The ship is highly equipped with advanced cutting-edge technologies, this will ensure cleaner air emissions and improved overall environmental performance.

Find out more about what this ship holds in store

To find out more about MSC Virtuosa this summer in the UK visit here.

Suggested Reading A New Southampton Cruise Terminal

A New Southampton Cruise Terminal

New Southampton Cruise Terminal For Summer 2021

Associated British Ports in partnership with MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise line Holdings Ltd have today announced the opening of a new cruise terminal at the Port of Southampton.

This is encouraging news as we all wait for cruise operations to resume. Clearly the impact of this years events does not show any signs of slowing down the future demand for cruises.

The fifth dedicated cruise terminal is going to be well equipped to service the next-generation of cruise ships. The main terminal building will use roof mounted solar power and Shore Power connectivity to supply sustainable operations. This will enable cruise ships, with the right onboard technology, to ‘plug in’ while they are alongside.

UK’s Number One Departure Port

Southampton is Europe’s leading cruise turn-around port and the UK’s number one departure port. The £55 million investment will further strengthen the Port of Southampton’s position.

The yet unnamed terminal is due to open in Summer 2021 and will become the home port of MSC Magnifica for part of the season sailing from the UK.

Four Existing Terminals

The Mayflower Terminal is the oldest of the four existing passenger terminals, which opened in 1960. Queen Elizabeth II Terminal followed shortly after in 1966. It wasn’t until 2003 that City Terminal was built and Ocean Terminal 6 years later in 2009.

Construction of the fifth cruise terminal commenced in September 2020 and is schedule to open in Summer 2021. The new Southampton cruise terminal will be the port’s largest to date and will be capable of handling the largest cruise ships in the world.

This is great news as we come to the close of the most difficult year in cruise industry history. We are all so desperate to get back onboard and it appears that there is no shortage of demand.

MSC Cruises are committing to sustainable cruising. Here are 7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

Exciting Line Up for MSC Grandiosa Christening

4 Nights of Grand Celebrations for the Christening of MSC Grandiosa

The first Meraviglia-Plus generation ship, MSC Grandiosa, will be Christened next month in Hamburg. MSC Cruises are planning a star-studded four-night celebration with German and International celebrities.

Schedule of Events

The celebrations begin with the arrival of the ship in Hamburg on the November 6.  The evening will see the start of four nights of illuminations from 20 different locations, in the Blue Port by renowned international light artist Michael Batz.

The traditional Christening ceremony will take place on board the ship, hosted by Michelle Hunziker who launched MSC Seaview in June 2018. The Swizz born actress, TV presenter, model and singer is popular in Italy and embodies the international spirit of MSC Cruises.

Michelle will be joined on board by co-host TV host & actor Jochen Schroppone of the most likeable entertainers in Germany.

The purpose-built MSC Village on the banks of the River Elbe, will welcome 5,000 people, allowing the city to join the celebrations.  From 5pm on the evening of the Christening, they can enjoy food trucks and live music.

Presenters Annemarie & Wayne Carpendale, probably the most popular family on German TV, will be hosting the events ashore, linking live to the ceremony on board.

Presenter AnneMarie Carpendale will be hosting the shoreside events.

Wayne Carpendale will be co-hosting the events with his wife AnneMarie.

The official naming of the ship will take place by MSC Cruises’ Godmother Sophia Loren, followed by a stunning fireworks display.

Credit: Getty Images – Sophia Loren

Grand Finale

The Port of Hamburg is known as “the gateway to the world”, so the climax of the evening’s events will be a special light show at the Elbphilharmonie concert halls.  A gateway of blue light will be projected over the water. MSC Grandiosa will then sail through it to symbolise the new ship’s entry to the world.

The Gala Dinner on board will follow, with a gourmet menu created by German chef royalty, Harald Wohlfahrt, voted one of the Top 10 Chefs in the World. He is the only German chef to hold a three Michelin Star rating for 25 years in a row.

Guests can dance the night away in the iconic 93-metre-long Mediterranean promenade, Galleria Grandiosa. The music will be provided by German DJ Mousse Twith live vocals from British singer Emma Lanford. The duo have toured together worldwide and will definitely get the party started!

Watch this short video to learn more about MSC Grandiosa.

Recommended Reading 7 Ways MSC Cruises Is Reducing Plastics

MSC Magnifica Restyled for UK Guests

MSC Magnifica To Undergo A Massive Transformation

The most Magnificent EX-UK season ever!

MSC Cruises revealed today brand-new itineraries for Summer 2021 sailing from Southampton on a newly refurbished MSC Magnifica. The ship will undergo a transformation adding 23 meters to the length, which will deliver an additional 7,000 m2 of space to the ship. This will allow for 215 extra cabins, a new water park, a redesigned kids area, plus additional features including two new restaurants and an exciting new shopping area.

24 sailings from Southampton for Summer 2021

MSC Cruises are introducing brand new itineraries designed for UK cruise guests. These include a 14-night sailing to the Mediterranean and 4 different Norwegian Fjord itineraries

The 24 sailings from Southampton beginning in May and ending in October will see the introduction of cruises ranging from 2 to 14 nights. The brand new varied itineraries will include the Canary Islands & Madeira, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Baltic Capitals. The majority of the 24 sailings will set sail on a Saturday. This is to ensure guests can make the most of their holiday experience.

Antonio Paradiso MD MSC Cruises UK & Ireland commented, “We are delighted to be further enhancing our guest experience and offering brand new itineraries sailing from the UK. We are committed to providing UK guests with the holidays they want.”

The announcement comes as a result of agents’ and guests’ feedback and the demand for more options to cruise from Southampton with MSC Cruises.

He added “The UK market is a priority for MSC Cruises and we have shown our commitment consistently over the last few years. Firstly, with our first-ever full EX-UK season in 2018, then with the naming of MSC Bellissima in Southampton in March this year and now with another full EX-UK season on a newly refurbished and enhanced ship with brand new itineraries created specifically with the British holidaymakers in mind.”

Itineraries

Cruise highlights include;

A 12-night cruise that calls at three of the Canary Islands – Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Lanzarote with their fantastic climate, distinctive landscapes and bustling ports the cruise departing early May is perfectly timed to catch the sun.

14-night Western Mediterranean cruise in August, including popular destinations for UK guests such as Palma de Mallorca and Monte Carlo will be the perfect choice for the family summer holiday.

MSC Magnifica will offer four different stunning Norwegian Fjord itineraries and will call at two brand new destinations; Skagen in Denmark renowned for hours of sun and unique light plus Rosendal, Norway, which is the world’s fourth-largest fjord.

Best of British

In addition to new itineraries MSC Magnifica guests will continue to enjoy the ‘Best of British’ enhancements, initially showcased on MSC Magnifica in 2018. These include favourites such as pie & mash, back bacon and sausages available in the buffet and kettles in cabins with of course Yorkshire Tea.

Environmental Advances

When works are completed, MSC Magnifica will feature two new major and important onboard environmental advances to complement a wide range of existing leading-edge environmental technologies across the company’s entire fleet: a state-of-the-art Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system and next-generation Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) system. SCR technology helps reduce nitrogen oxide into pure nitrogen and water through advanced active emissions control technology.

MSC Cruises took the opportunity to install a state-of-the-art advanced wastewater treatment system onboard. The system meets the highest standards and that purifies used wastewater to near tap-water quality. The system meets the so-called ‘Baltic Standard’ and treats the wastewater to a higher standard than most waste standards available in cities around the world. To help reduce and continuously minimize emissions also while in port, the ship will be able to ‘plug in’ to the local power grid wherever such systems are available at berth.

On Sale Now From £149pp

Cruises go on sale on the 12th September. Prices start from £149pp for a mini cruise and £549 for a Norwegian fjords cruise.

£100 On Board Credit

To celebrate the launch, MSC Cruises are offering up to £100 onboard credit per cabin on all 2021 MSC Magnifica sailings from Southampton. All prices include service charge and taxes. Terms and conditions apply and can be found at www.msccruises.co.uk

Itinerary highlights include:

May Bank Holiday Mini Cruise

This 3-night sailing runs across the late May Bank Holiday. Set sail from Southampton late on Friday evening and spend the day in Zeebrugge before returning to Southampton. Prices starting from £219pp based on two passengers sharing an inside cabin with £25pp OBC.

Baltic Capitals

There are two opportunities to discover the much-loved Baltic Capitals. A 12-night cruise departing 31st May or on a 14-night cruise departing 11th September. Offering slightly different itineraries with added highlights on the 14-night itinerary. These include an overnight stay in the Swedish Capital Stockholm, and a visit to Denmark’s Skagen. Both sailings include an overnight onboard stay in St Petersburg and a visit to Norway’s capital, Oslo. Prices starting from £1,569pp based on two people sharing a Balcony cabin with £50pp OBC.

Norway Your Way

Choose from one of four different Norwegian Fjord itineraries setting sail across the summer season. Explore much-loved ports including Flamm and Stavanger and new destinations for MSC Cruises Rosendal and Nordfjordeid. Cruises depart throughout the summer. Prices starting from £819pp based on two people sharing an Ocean View cabin with £25pp OBC.

14 Nights Perfect For Families

This 14-night cruise visits some of the Mediterranean’s most loved destinations and has been developed with families in mind. Departing on the 7th August this no-fly cruise begins with two sea days to give guests a chance to relax. Then it’s action-packed itinerary allows you to explore seven different ports in nine days. It also includes a late sail from the fabulous Palma de Mallorca and a visit to the exclusive Monte Carlo. Prices starting from £3,296 for a family of 4. All food and service charges included in the price, plus £50 OBC per cabin.

Recommended Reading MSC Magnifica Cruise Review

Take a Look At MSC Cruises New Bahamian Island

MSC CRUISES NEW BAHAMIAN ISLAND DESTINATION, OCEAN CAY

MSC Cruises have released a new rendered video of its exclusive Bahamian island destination, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

The video gives guests a taste of what they can look forward to while visiting the island. Ocean Cay will be part of itineraries exclusively for MSC guests in the Caribbean region.

Restoration

Ocean Cay is in the Bimini chain of islands in western Bahamas. It was previously an industrial sand extraction site, but has now been restored to pristine condition. The 120-square-acre island is surrounded by a 64-square-mile marine reserve and four smaller cays.

The first guests will step onto the island on November 9, 2019. They will experience the white sandy beaches, beautiful blue water and lush Bahamian greenery. Guests can seamlessly pass directly between the ship and island throughout the day and evening to take advantage of all of the facilities available onboard and ashore.

In the video, viewers can see some of the island’s key areas including:

  • Many unique beaches including the Great Lagoon Beach: Located in an inlet at the center of the island, this is the largest single beach area and offers a haven with shallow crystal-clear water perfect for swimming and water sports.
  • The iconic Lighthouse: A striking 30m tall landmark with a Hemingway-style bar and a terrace, where guests can enjoy incredible sea views with a cocktail and live music. After sunset, guests can gather to watch a breath-taking light show.
  • Seakers Food Court: A buffet restaurant that offers freshly prepared meals from a variety of international culinary traditions.
  • Ice Cream Parlour: An ice cream shop and café that serves a wide variety of ice cream flavours and coffee drinks.

Responsible Tourism

One priority for MSC Cruises on Ocean Cay is the restoration of the coral. As an integral part of the marine ecosystem, it needs to be protected. Coral ensures biodiversity, provide a habitat for marine life and protect coastlines.

From November 2019, all MSC Cruises ships from Miami will call at Ocean Cay as part of the Caribbean itineraries.

For more information about the island and to book your trip, please visit: www.msccruises.co.uk/cruises/destinations/caribbean-southern-caribbean/bahamas/ocean-cay-msc-marine-reserve

MSC Bellissima’s Cirque Du Soleil Shows

Cruise News

The unique long-term partnership between MSC Cruises and Cirque Du Soleil, has changed the face of entertainment at sea.  In March 2019, two brand new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, SYMA and VARÉLIA, launched on board MSC Cruises’ new flagship, MSC Bellissima.

The Carousel Lounge

To house these amazing shows, MSC Cruises have designed a state-of-the-art live entertainment venue called the Carousel Lounge. It is equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology, complex rigging systems, a 360-degree rotating stage and high-specification audio & lighting equipment. What makes this venue even more unique is its 413 guests capacity, making the experience intimate, and the interaction between the guests and performers even more special.

The multi-million-Euro, custom-made entertainment and dining venue, allows guests to enjoy dinner or cocktails and then watch the Cirque du Soleil at Sea performances. The shows can be seen six times a week.

Image: MSC Cruises – Carousel Lounge

Image: MSC Cruises – Carousel Lounge

Video projection mapping is used during the show to project visual content, on tangible set elements and props.

Image: MSC Cruises – SYMA

Image: MSC Cruises – SYMA

The Shows

SYMA is a fantastical odyssey into the heart of an imaginary world, and the search for a mysterious island inhabited by phantasmagorical creatures. The guests on board MSC Bellissima are embarking on a journey of discovery, just like the main character of the show. Immersive video images, an original set design, bioluminescent lighting and acrobatic feats, make SYMA an unforgettable show.

Image: MSC Cruises – SYMA

Image: MSC Cruises – SYMA

VARÉLIA is a tale of modern chivalry where love and courage triumph over the greatest divides. A medieval tale with a futuristic twist, VARÉLIA follows a classic story arc in a cartoonesque world which adds a humoristic touch. Audiences will delight in the acrobatic feats, the laser show and the unique set design.

Image: MSC Cruises – VARÉLIA

Image: MSC Cruises – VARÉLIA

How To Book

Cirque du Soleil at Sea can be booked in advance at a reduced rate.  Any remaining seats will be available to book onboard. For a three-course meal before the show, guests pay €35. If they just fancy a speciality cocktail and enjoy the pre-show, that begins 30 minutes before the start of the Cirque du Soleil at Sea performance, guest pay €15

MSC Meraviglia was the first ship to debut the new Cirque du Soleil at Sea concept, with the launch of  two shows VIAGGIO and SONOR in June 2017. They recently celebrated the 1,000th performance on board. Work is already underway for the next shows for MSC Grandiosa, that will launch in November 2019.

Cruise With Flavia onboard MSC Bellissima

I look forward to finding out, as I will be stepping onboard MSC Bellissima on 25th October. Want to join me? Simply email shipsandchampagne@gmail.com to register your interest.

If you haven’t already, you might want to check out my post The Naming Ceremony of MSC Bellissima

The Naming Ceremony of MSC Bellissima

MSC Bellissima’s Christening Ceremony Highlights

MSC Cruises have been on my list of favourite cruise lines for a few years now, but during the Christening of MSC Bellissima in Southampton I fell in love with them all over again.

Firstly, the ship itself, as her name suggests, is beautiful. The elegance and style that this family owned cruise line is known for, oozes from every detail of the ship. We were given a warm welcome as we embarked the ship the day before the Christening. This allowed everyone the opportunity to explore the ship and experience it for themselves.

The stunning LED screen that changes to suit the mood.

Familiar Faces

The Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) held an event onboard for its members, which allowed MSC Cruises to show off their new ship to the other cruise lines. Having worked in the cruise trade before becoming a writer and influencer, I caught up with many people I have come to know over the years. Here are just a few of them. 

I met up with some of the bloggers for a mandatory welcome drink.

Feeling peckish and a bit chilly, we all headed to the buffet for a lovely lunch. Whilst everyone tucked into the freshly made Italian pizza, I tried to put a keto lunch plate together. I think I did a pretty good job here.

After lunch everyone had their own plans, so we each did our own thing and arranged to meet up before dinner. I explored some of the upper decks of the ship, making the most of the sunshine despite the chilly breeze.

The indoor pool area means there is always a place to enjoy a swim or relax in the hot tub, regardless of the weather.

The Sky Lounge on deck 18 gives incredible panoramic views whilst relaxing with a refreshment and some live music.

A Beautiful Gift

Soon it was time for me to head back to my stateroom to unpack and prepare for the evening events. The room was very spacious and well set out, and a lovely surprise was waiting for me.

My brand new bed looked so comfortable. But I would have to wait until a lot later to try it out.

A Wonderful Evening

Dinner in the main dining room was amazing. I was far too busy having fun and chatting with my fellow bloggers to make a note of the menu but the food was the best I have ever had on an MSC ship.

I chose a delicious pate starter.

My sea bass main course was equally delicious.

I couldn’t resist the dessert.

After dinner we went up to the Sky Lounge. It had a lovely relaxing atmosphere, with a great singer and band performing jazz favourites.

Around 11.30pm a big party kicked off in the Sportsplex. The DJ played until the early hours and the dance floor was packed.

At 2am, I knew I had to drag myself away and get some sleep. As I walked to my stateroom I passed the pool which looked stunning under the night sky.

The Big Day

The day of the ceremony had arrived and a huge buzz of excitement filled the air. I went to get a better look at the facilities on board, starting with the Arizona Aquapark on deck 19. This is an amazing place for adults and kids to enjoy waterslides and try the exhilarating high ropes course.

Taking the stairs up to deck 20, the shiny new funnels were so quiet and clean. MSC Bellissima runs with significantly increased energy efficiency and has advanced technology for cleaner ship emissions.

Ultimate Luxury

Spanning three decks, MSC Yacht Club is a ship within a ship experience for those looking for the ultimate luxury retreat. I always feel it inappropriate to walk around the VIP lounge taking photos, but here is a photo of Deluxe Suite #16013.

The MSC Aurea Spa on deck 7 is a massive 1,100 square metre authentic Balinese spa. It’s 20 treatment rooms offer 160 treatments in addition to the hair salon, barber shop, nail treatments and medispa.

The thermal area offers a range of saunas, steam rooms, mediterranean baths, a salt room, ice room, blower pool, emotional showers and water benches.

MSC Bellissima boasts 18 bars and lounges. Despite not being a fan of the onboard pubs on other cruiselines, Masters of the Sea really appealed to me. It became the meeting point for our group throughout the event, and it was here I arranged to meet up with cruise ship photographer and friend, Andrew Sassoli-Walker.

Andrew had some free time between events, so we took a quick tour of the speciality restaurants onboard and sampled some of the food.

A sample of the steak served in Butcher’s Cut, the steakhouse parlour. It was mouthwateringly tender. The desserts looked delicious, but I resisted on this occasion.

Press Conference

At 3pm, a press conference was held in the London Theatre. MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, who has led MSC Cruises to over 800% growth, took to the stage and talked about how the family led business is different from other cruise lines. Without having to pay shareholder dividends, they are able to reinvest more of the profit into the ships, which are already the youngest fleet at sea.

He also spoke about their restoration project. Once an industrial island, Ocean Cay is now a marine reserve and private island of the cruise line.

MSC for Unicef

“The contribution of MSC around the world has changed the lives of tens of millions of children.” Mike Penrose, Executive Director Unicef UK.

MSC Cruises are celebrating a 10 year partnership with the Unicef, which has raised nearly ten million euros for the charity. Executive Director of Unicef UK, Mike Penrose came on stage and addressing the Aponte Family, Mr Vago, MSC Cruises and guests, he said “It’s not an understatement to say that the work you’ve done, the contribution of MSC around the world has changed the lives of tens of millions of children.” This was news to me. I had no idea the cruise line had made such a difference. I am sure I wasn’t the person in the room to well up with emotion after hearing this statement.

Mr Penrose was there to introduce the legendary ex-BBC reporter Martin Bell OBE. “I spent 22 years myself working on the front line of humanitarian aid, I’ve worked all around the world and we used to have a joke wherever I worked in conflict, that only three things were guaranteed to get through to the front line, those were beer, cigarettes and Mr Martin Bell” said Penrose.

Image source: twitter @raymond_blanc

First Hand Experiences

Mr Bell took the stage and thanked everyone in MSC for what they had done to “change the fortunes of children all around the world, rescuing children and rescuing childhoods.” Speaking of his 18 years as a Unicef Ambassador, Mr Bell recalled “looking in the eye of an 6 year old girl who was too late at the nutritional feeding station. One of the most heartbreaking experiences was just watching the life ebb away, but certainly other children got there in time. I held the hand of a nine year old girl in Yemen who had been bombed out of her home. The difference between PTSD in a child is that it lasts longer. I’m extraordinarily grateful to what MSC has done. Nearly ten million euros  over the years. May you go on doing it.”

Very Touching

It was a moving moment for everyone in the theatre and as MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato took to the stage, he echoed the feelings of the entire room and said that Mr Bell’s words were “very touching” and acknowledged “how important it is for us to really stop and think how we can improve the life of human beings around the world.”

Creating Luxury That Is Responsible

The press conference continued and Mr Onorato talked about the relationship between MSC Cruises and their work with Celebrity Chefs, saying that “dining is at the heart of the cruise experience”. I think we can agree with him on that one.  Ramon Freixa, Jean-Philippe Maury and Harald Wohlfahrt took turns in coming onto the stage and thanking MSC Cruises for the partnership with their onboard restaurants.

Then came a big surprise. Mr Onorato announced a new partnership with none other than world renowned chef, Raymond Blanc. Mr Blanc, who has trained 38 michelin starred chefs, said he was particularly touched to hear Mr Vago talk so well about Unicef and creating a luxury that is responsible. He said it was exciting to be part of that vision and to deliver an excellent experience for the guests and went on to inform the audience that he would be cooking the evening meal for the 170 celebrity guests onboard.

Image source: twitter @raymond_blanc – Harald Wohlfahrt (left), Raymond Blanc (centre) and Ramon Freixa (right)

So with the press conference over with, it was time to get ready for the evening.

The Naming Ceremony of MSC Bellissima

After a few glasses of bubbly on the ship, everyone made their way down to the huge marquee located on the quayside.

MSC Cruises had constructed a beautiful walkway with blue carpet that led us to the marquee keeping us guarded from the elements.

Our host for the evening Holly Willoughby looked stunning as she welcomed everybody to the ceremony.

Andrea and Matteo Bocelli gave an incredible performance of their duet.

The newest cadets currently being trained by MSC Cruises, paraded down the aisles to take the stage.

A video of the incredible charity work MSC Cruises is involved in was shown.

Following this MSC Cruises UK & Ireland Managing Director, Antonio Paradiso took to the stage and invited Nicola Graham founder of Ruben’s Retreat to join him. Nicola told of the tragic loss of her son Ruben and the work they are doing to help families. Antonio announced a partnership with the charity.

The wind outside had picked up and a decision was made to continue the ceremony on board the ship.

Back On Board

Once we were all settled back onboard, Sophia Loren appeared in the galleria with the officers.

After a few words from the legendary award winning actress, the hull of Bellissima was projected onto the LED ceiling. There was a loud 3-2-1 and the bottle of champagne could be seen smashing against the hull of Bellissima.

There was a huge cheer from the crowd and a sea of champagne glasses in the air. Our media group enjoyed a delicious dinner in the main dining room.

Image source: Instagram @fran_in_france

A delicious main course of applewood smoked duck breast salad, orange confit and asparagus pomegranate cherry dressing.

Leee John Performs with Chic

I miss my younger days of going out at the weekends and having a good dance. THIS for me was the highlight. I was ready for dancing!

Leee John performed a non stop high energy 2 hour set with back to back hits. It was totally incredible and I did not stop dancing. For videos of the show please visit my Instagram page @ships.and.champagne and click on the highlight #mscbellissima

Chic singer Folami and bass player Jerry Barnes joined Leee John on stage to perform their hit “Good Times”. Not only was this one of Nile Rogers biggest hit records, but it has appeared as a sample on 192 songs.

Folami, Leee John and Jerry Barnes.

You can read my interview with Leee John or listen and order the latest release from Leee John click here.

Well done MSC UK team for pulling off an absolutely incredible event, that people will always remember.

Cruise with Flavia onboard MSC Bellissima

Who fancies joining me on a cruise onboard MSC Bellissima? I am hosting a group on a 7 night Mediterranean cruise onboard MSC Bellissima. This cruise is suitable for first time cruisers, families with children, or solo travellers who would benefit from travelling within a larger group. The date is 25th October 2019 sailing from Barcelona. The group is being handled by Cruise Specialist Jane Cowley at Travel Counsellors, who’s contact details can be found here.

Andrea Bocelli To Perform At Southampton Ceremony

More Acts Revealed For Ceremony

The much anticipated launch of MSC Bellissima in Southampton is just hours away. The cruise line’s latest reveal, is that World-famous tenor Andrea Bocelli will sing during the traditional Officers’ Parade. This is an emotional and traditional moment that pays homage to the crew from the ship, recognising their service and dedication. During the ceremony, alongside his son Matteo Bocelli, the pair will perform their best-selling duet Fall on Me from Andrea’s new album Sì.

The Bocelli family have a long standing relationship with MSC Cruises. Andrea Bocelli performed at the christening of MSC Poesia in Dover in 2008 and the Naming Ceremony of MSC Seaside in Miami in 2017.  Matteo Bocelli’s performed My Way last year during the Officers’ Parade in Trieste at the launch of MSC Seaview, which I was fortunate to witness myself.

Matteo Bocelli at the launch of MSC Seaview.

Andrea Bocelli Foundation

MSC Cruises supports the Andrea Bocelli Foundation through guest donations on board MSC Seaside. The funds raised support their valuable work in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world facing exceptional challenges. ABF’s Mobile Clinic project delivers free health care assistance and a prevention programme.

It benefits 8,000 people per year in the 5 poorest and most remote areas of the country. The medical staff provide extensive services. These include medical care, immunization for children, monitoring for malnutrition and screening for the most common systemic diseases, health education and family consultations.

MSC Cruises will host a star studded extravaganza. Hosted by ITV’s Holly Willoughby, there will be some incredible performances including Cirque du Soleil at Sea and Nile Rodgers and his band Chic. Ship’s Godmother, Sophia Loren will officially name MSC Bellissima, followed by the traditional ribbon-cutting.

MSC Bellissima Joins The Family

MSC Cruises took delivery of MSC Bellissima yesterday at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. The second Meraviglia Class ship, MSC Bellissima is designed for all seasons, offering plenty of outdoor and indoor public spaces. With a length of just 315 metres, she has been designed to be able to access most of the world’s cruise ports.

Cutting Edge Technology

MSC Bellissima pushes the boundaries of ship building and design, with some of the latest environmental technologies available. These include

  • a cutting-edge exhaust gas cleaning system
  • an advanced wastewater treatment plant
  • systems for the prevention of oil discharge from machinery spaces
  • a ballast water treatment system
  • various energy-saving improvements – from heat recovery systems to LED lighting

She is also fitted with cutting edge guest technology, and is the first MSC Cruises ship to feature ZOE, the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant, which has been added to MSC for Me. Every cabin will feature the voice-enabled virtual personal assistant, who can answer hundreds of questions about the cruise.

MSC Bellissima is currently making her way towards Southampton, UK for her Naming Ceremony this weekend. Her maiden voyage departs 4 March to Genoa, Italy to spend her inaugural season, offering Western Mediterranean cruises. In November 2019, she will reposition to the Gulf, providing weekly sailings out of Dubai. In spring 2020 she will be deployed to Asia.

For more information about MSC Bellissima visit MSC Cruises Website

Magic In The Air with Leee John & MSC Bellissima

Leee John and his platinum selling band Imagination, packed dancefloors in the Eighties. Their hits included Just an Illusion, Body Talk, Music and Lights, and Flashback with sales in excess of 30 million albums.

The multi talented North London Soul boy of St Lucian decent, has worked non stop over the last 30 years as a songwriter, vocalist, producer, musician, radio show presenter, dj and actor.

I caught up with Leee this week following the announcement of his performance at the MSC Bellissima Christening. The star-studded event to be held on 1st of March in Southampton will be hosted by TV beauty Holly Willoughby. Also performing will be Nile Rodgers and Chic. This will be followed by the traditional ribbon cutting by ship’s Godmother, award winning actress Sophia Loren.

Have you been on a cruise ship before?

“Yes. The first ship I cruised on was when I was eight years old. It was the SS France, which was the longest ship in the world at the time and had the biggest floating cinema.” 

How do you feel about performing at the MSC Bellissima Christening?

“Overwhelmed and very, very excited. I mean wow, what can I say? Sophia Loren? I am going to be completely gaga! I am very much a music and film buff and saw Sophia Loren in Two Women in which she won two awards. I also saw her in Arabasque which I love as I am a fashionista.”

“Antonio and the team at MSC Cruises have been fantastic. They came to see me and were extremely gracious, offering to help us with anything we need.”

“I am looking forward to performing alongside Nile Rodgers and Chic again. We have toured together twice before, having performed around 20 shows together. In fact I once had a call from Nile asking me to help him out. He was due to perform at a special party for his Goddaughter, but had been delayed, so asked if I could fill in for him until he arrived.”

Can you reveal any details about your performance for the event?

“We will be playing the latest and the greatest! I am old school so for me the performance is totally about the audience. I have a fantastic band. Our drummer is Mel Gaynor who used to play with Simple Minds. He actually played with Imagination on our very first tour. Mike Timothy is our keyboard player and he has worked with Dexys Midnight Runners and Massive Attack. Alexis our bass player and Lorraine who sings backing vocals are also outstanding musicians to work with.”

Retropia

After talking to Leee, I am even more excited to see his performance at the event and have bought a copy of his last album Retropia. It includes a range of styles from Soul and Jazz to Rock and Dance. Recording a soul version of Highway To Hell (my personal favourite track on the album) takes talent, but has clearly paid off as it will feature as the theme tune to Netflix show Street Riders, also produced by Sky in Italy.

Current Projects

Leee has been producing his film Flashback over the last six years. The film celebrates the great black artists who have contributed to UK music. Leee has gathered more than 80 interviews from artists such as Beverley Knight, Eddy Grant, Trevor Nelson, Omar, Geno Washington, Shalamar’s Jeffrey Daniels, Boney M’s Bobby Farrell and Ruby Turner. Leee is also planning on putting this on an app platform for use in the educational system.

As well as a film, Leee is working on his new album under the working title of World Domination. It is expected for release in 2020. Leee is working with an eclectic mix of musicians from the Gypsy Kings to Rob David (Can’t Get You Out Of My Head).

If you can’t wait until 2020, Retropia is available to buy from Amazon.

 

Retropia Review

Wonderful album from the very talented Leee John, the lead singer of Imagination. The songs vary from the very danceable” Do It Right Now “to the atmospheric ” Utopia ” to the rocky ” Highway To Hell”. Every track has something to offer in quality, perfect pitch and great production. Thoroughly recommended. – Cheri

Buy Retropia here

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MSC Cruises To Host A Star Studded Extravaganza In Southampton

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MSC Cruises To Host A Star Studded Extravaganza

Star Studded Line Up Revealed for the Naming Ceremony of MSC Bellissima in Southampton

MSC Cruises are hosting probably the most glamorous and star studded event ever held in Southampton. UK & Ireland Managing Director Antonio Paradiso is thrilled to be showcasing their new flagship MSC Bellissima to the UK.

Day One

The three day event starts with VIPs embarking the largest ship ever to be launched in Southampton.

They will be the first people to try out some of the most innovative technology at sea. Each stateroom on this next-generation ship, will feature the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant ZOE.

Other features include;

  • A 96 metre promenade with the longest LED sky screen at sea
  • A new specialty restaurant concept HOLA! Tapas from two-time Michelin-starred Chef Ramón Freixa
  • A a new French specialty restaurant, l’Atelier Bistrot
  • A a Chocolaterie and Chocolate Bar from the award-winning pastry chef and chocolatier Jean-Philippe Maury
  • World-class entertainment
  • MSC Aurea Spa
  • Family facilities in partnership with LEGO Group and Chicco
  • MSC Yacht Club
  • A shopping gallery featuring over 200 brands

Day Two

On 2nd March the evening begins with a Gala drinks reception for guests at 6pm.

Shortly afterwards the naming ceremony will commence pierside. Celebrity host for the evening will be none other than UK TV favourite Holly Willoughby, presenter of Strictly Come Dancing, This Morning and Celebrity Juice.

Nile Rodgers, three-time Grammy Award Winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, will perform along with his band Chic. Their hits include  “Le Freak”, which is preserved in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.” 

MSC Bellissima will feature two brand new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows VARÉLIA and SYMA. Evening celebrations will include a very special pier side performance. This will be the first time that Cirque du Soleil, the world leader in live entertainment, has performed at the launch of a ship and this will provide a taster of what lies in store for MSC Cruises guests on board MSC Bellissima.

No MSC Cruises Naming Ceremony would be complete without Academy Award-winning actress, Sophia Loren. The cruise line have chosen Ms Loren as Godmother to their entire fleet. She will perform the traditional ribbon-cutting and officially name the spectacular MSC Bellissima.

Guests will then rejoin the ship to enjoy a delicious gala dinner. As the entertainment continues back on board, guest can dance the night away to live music from platinum-selling UK singer Leee John and his band, who will be performing the latest and greatest hits. You can read my full interview with Leee here.

Day Three

The festivities continue with 3,500 UK and Ireland travel agents boarding the ship. They will be able to enjoy a full day of activities and entertainment. Craig David will give an evening performance to the lucky travel agents.

Increasing the Popularity of Cruise

Antonio Paradiso, MD for MSC Cruises UK & Ireland commented, “I am so proud to be hosting the Naming Ceremony of MSC Bellissima in Southampton and to have the opportunity to showcase our newest ship to so many of our travel agent partners, media outlets, valued guests and future cruisers.”

“The naming ceremony is our opportunity to showcase MSC Cruises to the whole of the UK, and it is this sort of exposure that will allow us to raise the profile of cruise holidays. Each celebrity that is involved with the naming ceremony, or each dining or entertainment partnership that enhances our cruises provides an opportunity to present cruise to a new audience and it’s these new audiences that are so important in increasing the popularity of cruise”

MSC Bellissima will depart Southampton on March 4th to commence her 10-night inaugural cruise to Genoa. From March 17th MSC Bellissima will commence 7-night itineraries in the Mediterranean calling Genoa, Naples and Messina (Italy) Valetta (Malta), Barcelona (Spain) and Marseille (France)

MSC Cruises Sponsor Chelsea Football Club

MSC CRUISES TO BECOME OFFICIAL GLOBAL PARTNER OF CHELSEA FOOTBALL CLUB

  • Partnership is part of MSC Cruises’ strategic focus on the UK & Ireland

  • MSC Bellissima first ship to benefit from the partnership with signed memorabilia onboard & Chelsea ambassadors set to attend naming ceremony on 2nd March 2019 in Southampton

Image: MSC Cruises – Antonio Paradiso (MD MSC Cruises UK & Ireland), Bruce Buck (Chairman Chelsea FC), Gianni Onorato (CEO MSC Cruises)

I couldn’t be more excited to see a partnership between MSC Cruises and Chelsea Football Club.

I remember asking my Mum which football team was the one nearest to where I was born. The answer? Chelsea. In the 1970’s I took a lot of flack for that.

I manage to dig out a couple of old photos of the day I met Dennis Wise and Steve Clarke. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Players Lounge at an away match many years ago. Can you try and guess what year these photos were taken?

The multi-million-pound deal, includes LED perimeter advertising, VIP hospitality, star player engagement and a dedicated digital marketing presence. Starting in January 2019 the partnership will run until June 2021.

Chris Townsend OBE, Commercial Director, Chelsea Football Club stated: “We are delighted to announce a partnership with MSC Cruises at such an exciting time for their business. With the imminent launch of their new ship, it is the perfect time to begin our partnership.”

“We look forward to collaborating with MSC Cruises and cannot wait to introduce our global fanbase to this fantastic company”

An Industry-Unprecedented Investment Plan

MSC Cruises is the leading cruise line across Europe and the Gulf, South America and Southern Africa. They are currently in the midst of an industry-unprecedented 10-year. Their €13.6 billion investment plan, will see 17 new ships coming into service over a 10 year period.

The partnership with Chelsea comes during a milestone week for MSC Cruises, as the 100-day countdown to the launch of the new MSC Bellissima begins. The Company’s new flag ship, which will be named in Southampton in a star studded ceremony on March 2nd will be the first ship in the fleet to benefit from the partnership where signed Chelsea FC memorabilia will be on display for guests in the British pub on board. In celebration of the partnership, ambassadors from the football club will attend the naming ceremony, as MSC Bellisima becomes the biggest ship ever to launch in the UK.

Antonio Paradiso, MSC Cruises’ Managing Director for UK & Ireland, added: “MSC Cruises has an ongoing commitment to the UK and Irish markets and this partnership with a world renowned and respected British institution, Chelsea FC further demonstrates this. This partnership will allow us to further raise the profile of the brand in the two markets. “

Of the impact on trade activity Antonio Paradiso added: “For our travel agents this will mean both an increased awareness around cruise from the billions of football fans who watch the Premier League every week but also an opportunity to engage a totally new audience who may never have considered a cruise before.

Visit here for more information on  Chelsea Football Club.

Most Beautiful Ship 100 Days from Southampton

100 Day Countdown To The Launch of MSC Bellissima

MSC Cruises has started to reveal details of what guests can look forward to on MSC Bellissima. Their flagship will be named in Southampton, England on 2nd March 2019.

MSC Bellissima to be the biggest cruise ship named in Southampton.

MSC Bellissima will be the biggest cruise ship ever to be named in the UK’s cruise capital, with a maximum capacity of 5,686 guests and gross tonnage of 171,598,

FIRST AT SEA

Guests taking a cruise on board MSC Bellissima will be the first to experience the world’s first digital cruise assistant. Zoe will be available in seven languages and is designed to answer the most commonly asked questions all from the comfort of your cabin. The custom designed voice-enabled Artificial Intelligence device, will elevate the guest service experience to enhance and enrich life on board.

HOLA! Tapas Bar – New Dining Venue

At the heart of the ships’ iconic Galleria, HOLA! Tapas Bar welcomes you into an amazing new culinary experience created by the two Michelin starred chef Ramón Freixa. Designed to be a social dining experience, guests will be able to enjoy shared plates in a traditional celebration of the Mediterranean way of life.

Flavia with Michelin Starred Chef Ramon Freixa

 

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, HOLA! TAPAS by Ramon Freixa

Ramón Freixa explains, “I want guests to enjoy a true taste of Spain through appetising tapas and a cheerful bar atmosphere.” Freixa continues, “I am delighted to be collaborating again with MSC Cruises. This partnership is special to me as we have such strong shared values and this new restaurant embodies our passion for sharing the joys of Mediterranean food.”

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, HOLA! TAPAS by Ramon Freixa

12 Dining Venues and 20 Bars

In addition, guests will have a further 12 international dining venues and 20 bars to choose from, including the new French speciality restaurant L’Atelier Bistrot.

Anyone with a sweet tooth can enjoy unique and elegant chocolate creations and desserts at the Chocolaterie and Chocolate bar designed by acclaimed pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury.

World-Class Entertainment

Two brand new exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea performances will be available onboard MSC Bellissima. The new show concepts will be revealed next month.

NEW MAGIC THEMED KIDS’ PROGRAMME

A giant children’s play area will host LEGO® and Chicco activities, and a brand-new School of Magic programme and weekly Magic Talent Show.

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, Doremiland

Environmental Responsibility

To reduce her environmental footprint, MSC Bellissima will be equipped with the most modern environmental technology, energy-saving features and innovative technology.

Some of the things she will be equipped with include: an exhaust gas cleaning system for cleaner emissions; an advanced wastewater treatment system; smart heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) to recover heat from machinery spaces; and LED lighting and smart devices. These measures will save significant energy.

This all comes as part of MSC Cruises commitment to provide guests with the best holiday experiences at sea in a sustainable way.

MSC Bellissima lives up to her name meaning “most beautiful” by offering guests a beautiful and memorable cruise experience.

MSC Bellissima will feature a brand new Grand Canyon theme for the aquapark with three exhilarating water slides.

Photo: MSC Cruises – MSC Bellissima, Arizona Aquapark

Photo: MSC Bellissima, Arizona Aquapark

A full-size bowling alley, F1 simulator and an XD cinema are just some of the other onboard attractions to ensure guests of all ages will have fun.

The ship introduces six brand new West-End style shows, as well as a full programme of activities.

At the heart of MSC Bellissima is a stunning Galleria with an 80-metre LED sky screen. The shopping gallery has over 200 brands, bars and restaurants will stunning projections throughout the day.

Photo: MSC Cruises

The Balinese MSC Aurea Spa offers 79 different treatments. It includes a stunning thermal area which will be the perfect place to relax.

MSC Bellissima will offer 7-night Mediterranean cruises for her inaugural season. After which she will move to the Emirates for Winter 2019/2020.

Watch MSC Bellissima coming together in this incredible timelapse video.

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MSC Cruises Have Launched A Worldwide Commitment To Eliminate Single-use Plastics Throughout The Fleet

It is the topic of the decade, reducing ocean pollution and MSC Cruises are taking a big step to ensure they are making changes across their family owned fleet. MSC Cruises’ commitment will see the phasing out of all single use plastic straws by December 2018. This is followed by a further pledge which will se the removal of virtually all single-use plastics fleetwide by March 2019.

  • MSC Cruises’ Plastics Reduction Programme plans to phase out or replace virtually all single-use plastic items by March 2019 across its entire fleet .
  • The first milestone will be reached by the end of 2018 which will see all plastic straws replaced with 100% compostable and biodegradable alternatives.
  • The company is exploring end-to-end recycling solutions and for remaining plastic items to get certification by global organisation.

Antonio Paradiso, MD for MSC Cruises UK & Ireland said of the commitment “At MSC Cruises our passion is the sea and we are always working hard to grow and evolve our business with a mind-set to respect the environment and the oceans which we operate in. Our plastic reduction programme aims to move at a very fast pace and by end of December 2018, we will already reach a first milestone by phasing out all single-use plastic straws, followed by another milestone in March 2019 when virtually all single-use plastics will be removed or replaced if alternatives are available.

The depth and diligence of this programme is exceptional and unique: it is not only about single-use plastic straws, or small ‘visible’ restaurant items, the Programme also looks at eliminating ALL ‘invisible’ single-use plastic items from the entire supply chain. At MSC Cruises we are driven by innovation and development and are working with thousands of partners and suppliers to ensure that our Environmental Stewardship Programme matches the innovation of our next generation smart fleet.”

MSC Seaview – The Biggest Ship Ever Built In Italy

MSC CRUISES TAKES DELIVERY OF MSC SEAVIEW THE BIGGEST SHIP EVER BUILT IN ITALY

Monfalcone, Italy, 4 June 2018 – Today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, MSC Cruises officially took delivery of another mega ship to add to their growing fleet.

The flag ceremony in which delivery took place for MSC Seaview was held in the presence of the shipowner as well as Founder and Executive Chairman of MSC Group, Gianluigi Aponte.

Also present were Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, other members of the Aponte and Aponte-Vago families, Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, and other authorities and dignitaries.

During the ceremony, an important maritime tradition, Roberto Olivari, Fincantieri’s shipyard director, handed an ampoule over to Pier Paolo Scala, Master of MSC Seaview. It contains the first water that touched the hull when MSC Seaview was floated out last year.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises – Fincantieri Shipyard Director Roberto Olivari presents an ampoule of water from MSC Seaview’s float out to Captain Pier Paolo Scala

MSC Seaview has an iconic design, with generous outdoor spaces and will be a game changer for guests who want to make the most of the sun and outdoors. Her inaugural summer season will be spent sailing the Mediterranean from her homeport of Genoa, Italy, repositioning to South America for the winter season. MSC are already the leading cruise line in both destinations, and the addition of MSC Seaview will only strengthen that.

MSC Cruises Seaside Class ships are pushing the boundaries of pioneering ship building and design when it comes to the environmental technology. MSC Seaview will not only comply with the highest international standards, but she will also receive RINA’s Green Star 3 which specifically recognises that MSC Seaview reaches the greatest levels of eco-compatibility due to various innovative measures put in place which help reduce the environmental footprint during operations. These include, the exhaust gas cleaning system, the advanced waste water treatment, systems for the prevention of oil discharge from machinery spaces, the ballast water treatment system, and the ship’s Environmental Management Plan.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises

MSC Seaview will be officially christened in Genoa on Saturday 9th June in a glittering ceremony which will feature ship’s Godmother Sophia Loren.

I am flying out to Genoa on Thursday ahead of the event, reporting for the Daily Mirror, so please follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for live updates.

Image Credit: MSC Cruises

 

Take an MSC Cruise To The Taj Mahal

Have You Ever Fancied A Cruise To The Taj Mahal?

Now you can take a cruise to the Taj Mahal with MSC Cruises. They announced today a move to double their sailings from Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The totally refurbished MSC Lirica will join MSC Splendida for 2018 to 2019 Winter Season. This comes after continued growth and strong demand for cruises in the region.

MSC Lirica will offer brand new 11 and 14 night itineraries with longer stays in port. There will be an overnight stay onboard in Dubai, allowing guests to enjoy the city by night. The real jewel in the crown however, is the introduction of three new destinations, New Mangalore, Goa and Mumbai. An overnight stay in Mumbai allows guests an opportunity to really explore the treasures of India.

Discounted Shore Excursions

In addition to the new itineraries and excursions, MSC Cruises are offering new excursions on MSC Lirica.

  • Dubai – EXCLUSIVE DUBAI: BURJ KHALIFA & LUNCH AT BURJ AL ARAB     

Visit iconic symbols of Dubai. The Dubai Mall, Burj Al Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Dubai’s famous gold souk to name a few.

  • Abu Dhabi – THE LOUVRE MUSEUM & ABU DHABI EXPLORATION      

 Guests can tour the “Manhattan of Arabia,” with a visit to the new Louvre Abu Dhabi.

  • Bahrain – BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT IN A 4X4  

A real adventure as guests blaze through the Bahrain International Circuit in the Sakhir Desert.

  • Muscat – MYSTICAL MUSCAT     

Guests will have the opportunity to experience Oman’s spiritual and cultural heritage. The tour visits the Grand Mosque, old Muscat and Muttrah Souk. They will stop at the Bait Al Zubair Museum to view the archaeological find and the traditional dress and jewellery of Oman.

  • Qatar – DESERT SAFARI AND RELAX AT THE BEACH

Guests can ride through Qatar’s surrounding desert across the sand dunes. The journey will end up at Gulf Adventure camp. This oasis of tranquillity is located in the Arabian desert, kissed by the blue waters of the Arabian Gulf.

  • Goa – CROCODILES, MANGROVE & RIVER CRUISE  

This one-of-kind river cruise, allows guests to discover Goa’s verdant landscape. As they head down to the mangroves where the Cumbarjua River flows; the will be impressed by the magnificent birdlife and freshwater crocodiles.

  • Mumbai – OVERLAND TO THE TAJ MAHAL       

This incredible three-day tour takes guests through Mumbai, New Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra – where guests will experience the breath-taking Taj Mahal – and Cochin. They will experience an express tour through some of India’s most famous and memorable landmarks and get to spend two nights in luxury hotels.

  • New Mangalore – Jain & Udupi Temples

From the 15th Century Moodbidiri temple, to Udupi’s Krishna Temple, guests will visit the famous Jain temples of Mangalore.

Free Status Match

MSC Splendida will be offering 7-night itineraries in the region, and now is a great time to book. MSC Cruises are currently offering to match your loyalty status with them, to that of your regular cruise line. You just pay for port taxes.

Recommended Reading MSC Magnifica Restyled for UK Guests

Cruise Ship Plays Seven Nation Army

Have You Ever Heard ‘Seven Nation Army’?

You may have heard the original White Stripes recording of their huge hit Seven Nation Army, but one of MSC’s cruise ships, Magnifica, surprised onlookers in Hamburg by playing the song on it’s horns.  This was as part of the celebrations to mark the 825th anniversary of the Port of Hamburg. Here is the moment when an MSC cruise ship plays Seven Nation Army.

The 95,128-ton MSC Magnifica has the capacity to carry 3,223 passengers and approx 1,038 crew members.

The ships 16 decks include 3 swimming pools, 5 restaurants, theatre, 4D cinema, casino, 9 bars and lounges, fitness centre and spa, 52 suites with private balcony and a massive 779 balcony cabins as well as outside and interior options.

A great advantage to cruising with MSC if you are travelling with children, is that on most sailings kids go free.  You still pay for port taxes and gratuities but it’s still a massive saving.  They have the same kids facilities as most other major cruise lines, so there is no compromise there.

They live up to their heritage as an Italian cruise line, as I would say they definitely serve the best fresh pizza, gelato and coffee at sea.

The Italian flair can be seen in the opulent furnishing in the public areas.  I particularly loved the Tiger Bar with it’s ‘Hollywood Glamour’ style staircase.

Of course it wouldn’t be complete without the opportunity for some designer shopping. Onboard MSC Magnifica you can find all sorts of shops from designer handbags, Ralph Lauren, logo shops, perfume and duty free.

It’s hard not to pop in and have a little look, when you pass a window display like this one.

It’s a great excuse to treat yourself to a little souvenir from your cruise.

MSC are truly a family cruise line, whether travelling alone or in a group, you always get that sense of family.

 Useful Links

Why not read my:  MSC Magnifica Cruise Review

MSC Magnifica Cruise Ship Review

The Med Way of Life aboard MSC Magnifica

This was my first cruise with an Italian Cruise Line and the value for money was incredible.  I couldn’t have stayed in a Travelodge for £105 for 3 nights, let alone take a cruise. We topped up with the Allegrissimo drinks package which was around £25 per person per day.  It included Prosecco, speciality coffee and gelato.

MSC Magnifica

Not A Great Start

After a hellish flight with a wriggly, impatient toddler, an absent A2B transfers driver and a journey to 2 wrong destinations, we FINALLY arrived at the cruise terminal.

It All Changed

As we stepped onto the pavement with our cases, pushchair and bags,  we were approached by a lovely Italian lady who kindly checked our cases were labelled correctly and showed us where to leave them.

We connected with my friends’ friend and her 5-year-old daughter and joined the rather long queue for check-in.  We were given priority boarding having the pushchair with us and checked in.  A handsome young man in a blue blazer greeted us and said “see you onboard”. I was already impressed.

As we boarded the ship, wristbands were put on the children. After the journey we were hungry so we headed straight to the restaurant. The buffet-style restaurant on the MSC Magnifica was by far the largest I have EVER seen. Spread into 2 rooms with fruit and salad stations at each end.  By the time I’d seen everything, I’d forgotten what was at the start. Having said that, once I knew how good the freshly made pizza was……….. nothing else mattered.  The plates are huge as well so you end up putting a lot more than intended on your plate.

Our Cabin

I must admit to looking for the ‘catch’.  I was expecting to find something that would explain the low cost of this cruise.  We went to our rooms to see what they were like. They were lovely, spacious, nicely decorated, nothing wrong with that at all, in fact on a par with the other mainstream cruise lines and better than some.  The bed was comfy, pillows lovely and plump, a good amount of hanging space and drawers for your clothes.

Baby Club

I familiarised myself with the baby club and made sure I checked Joshua in for the drop off times.  For under 3’s they offer baby drop off onboard MSC Magnifica which is one hour at 1 pm and one hour at 6 pm. Perfect for parents to indulge in some time in the jacuzzi in the afternoon or a spa treatment, and an hour to get ready for dinner in the evening.  There is no charge for this and you can access the baby club all day if you want to let your little one run wild.

This was Joshua’s 3rd cruise and I had taken my daughter 4 times prior to that.  As a single parent, you can often feel like you are on the outside watching everyone else have fun.  I do believe that the best holiday you can have as a single parent is a cruise, but there are still some activities you feel you cannot be part of.

Family Fun

As I was walking through the main lounge known on MSC Magnifica as the Tiger Bar, a member of the entertainment team invited me to join them for the sailaway party.  I couldn’t think of anywhere else I needed to be, so I pulled up the pushchair put my bag down, ordered a drink from the waitress standing nearby, took off my jumper and sat down. Joshua took great delight in walking around the lounge, so with Prosecco in hand (mine), I followed him.

People were really friendly and by their friendly reaction, you would have thought they’d never seen a baby before.  One thing I will say about Mediterranean cultures is that they embrace the presence of children which is refreshing.

The entertainment team got up on stage and the music started. People of all ages took to the dance floor, so I picked up Joshua and joined them.  He loved it, I loved it. I couldn’t believe it was 6 pm and the party was in full swing, what a great bunch of people.  My friends came along and we all danced together.  My friend and I both looked at each other and agreed that this was fantastic.

Early Dinner

So now I was in the holiday frame of mind, and I’d danced off the stresses of the day, it was time to get ready for dinner.  We didn’t have long so I figured we would just freshen up, grab dinner and an early night.

We met in the main dining room and did our best to get through 7 courses including steamed mussels, salad, soup, an extensive choice of delicious entrees, cheese and biscuits, dessert and coffee.  Joshua was grumpy as it had been a long day and I was exhausted, so we ate what we could and we went back to our room.

One of the many benefits of cruising is that you end the evening when you are ready rather than have to do everything as a group.

Exploring Magnifica

The next two days were spent enjoying quality time with Joshua, eating whatever I wanted, meeting new people and chilling out.

My three favourite areas of the ship were the pool with its retractable roof, the Tiger Bar and the nightclub, which didn’t start until 11 pm but Josh and I went in during the day and had a good look around.  There are plenty of lounges on board and they all have great and varied entertainment to offer.

 

Tips For Cruising With A Baby

I found it worked best to give Joshua breakfast in the buffet first. Then I would go to the coffee and chocolate bar for a speciality coffee where Joshua could run around safely.  After that I would push him around in his pushchair until he fell asleep. Once he was off I could go into the main dining room for my favourite dish of eggs benedict.

Lunch was in the buffet. After the first two nights, I decided it was better for us and other guests if we also had dinner in the buffet.  The problem with eating at the buffet is that you can go back for more.  But afterwards, I would let Joshua fall asleep in his pushchair and sit in the evening by the undercover pool and read and relax with another glass of prosecco.  My friends always seemed to find me and would join me for a while and then they would go off and do their thing.

To sum up, my short cruise on MSC Magnifica far exceeded my expectations.

You really get the feeling of the Mediterranean way of life. The people are friendly, positive and ready to enjoy themselves.  It’s a place where age means nothing, old people don’t act old, in fact they act younger then the youngsters.  They are living life to the full with the people they love and it shows through. For more information go to MSC Cruises


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