MSC Bellissima’s arrival in Southampton has been hotly anticipated since it was announced a year before that it would be launched in the UK. It’s the largest ship to ever do so in Britain, able to carry over 5,600 passengers with 20 bars and lounges.
I was invited by MSC Cruises UK to be one of the first onboard Bellissima so I could share with you my experience and a ship tour video.
MSC Bellissima Ship Tour: Balcony Cabin
I stayed in a balcony cabin and was impressed by the technology and design with touch-sensitive lights, usb ports and even replacing cabin attendant door signs with switches. The one that drew most attention was ZOE, MSC’s new virtual cabin assistant, comparable to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. It’s a first at sea and ZOE has been has been rigorously tested with over two-million questions and can speak 7 languages.
Further reading: 6 things to expect from a MSC Cruise
MSC Bellissima Ship Tour: Galleria
The Italian design dazzles in the Galleria and atrium with spectacular Swarovski crystal staircases and the 80m LED sky that stretches down the spine of the ship.
The Galleria is a social hub of bars, restaurants and shops with the largest cosmetic and jewellery stores I’ve personally seen at sea in Plaza Bellissima.
Hola! Is a new tapas style bar for MSC and they’ve worked with 2* Michelin chef Ramón Freixa on the menu. Opposite is Jean Phillipe’s café where the chocolatiers hand make luxury treats before your eyes.
MSC Bellissima Ship Tour: Entertainment
The visual feast continues inside Bellissima’s casino which leads on to the 400-capacity Carousel Lounge, a grand €20 million entertainment space at the aft of the ship with panoramic sea views by day and incredible Cirque du Soleil shows by night, who’ve partnered exclusively with MSC cruises on Bellissima and sister ship Meraviglia. In the ‘London Theatre’ Bellissima will host a staggering six broadway-style shows.
The Sportsplex will be an obvious hit for the youngest passengers where you’ll find an indoor sports court, F1 Simulator, immersive XD Cinema, bowling alley and arcade. One floor above is the children’s clubs that MSC, a family company at its heart, take a lot of pride in.
MSC Bellissima Ship Tour: Pool Deck
MSC Cruises has some of the longest waterslides at sea and the Arizona Aquapark has three to keep families entertained for hours. There’s also Himalayan Bridge, a suspended rope course that rewards your bravery with some the best views 80m above the sea. If a slower pace is more your style the Horizon Amphitheatre is a perfect spot to sit back and soak up the sun with a cocktail.
MSC Bellissima Ship Tour: Dining Options
There are twelve dining venues on Bellissima, including the speciality restaurants mentioned above and The Marketplace (a round-the-clock self-service restaurant), the Lighthouse, Il Ciliegio and Le Cerisier. MSC announced their newest partnership whilst I was onboard, none other than Raymond Blanc who prepared a special Gala dinner as a teaser to his menu.
Further reading: Cruise bloggers share their must-try dining experiences at sea
MSC Bellissima Ship Tour: The Yacht Club
MSC describes The Yacht Club as a ‘ship within a ship’ with 95 exclusive suites, private lounge, restaurant and pool area. It’s premium luxury with 24-hour butler service and extra perks like a free mini bar and à la carte gourmet cuisine.
MSC Bellissima: The Naming Ceremony
MSC Cruises pulled out all the stops to ensure the launch of Bellissima was as spectacular as the ship. Even though the British weather paused celebrations in the specially assembled marquee, Andrea and Matteo Bocelli and the Cirque du Soleil performers took to the stage with UK-TV favourite Holly Willoughby presenting.
Hollywood glamour was provided by Madame Sophia Loren, Godmother of Bellissima who ignited a New Years Eve-like countdown for the traditional champagne bottle smashing moment against the ship.
Further reading: An Interview With Natalie Billington from MSC Cruises
The family company’s generosity to welcome thousands of people across the UK cruise industry to Southampton for Bellissima’s launch is superseded by their continued commitment to work with charities like UNICEF who they’ve already raised €9 million for. MSC also announced a UK charity that they are now supporting, Reuben’s Retreat, a home-from-home for families bereaved of a child or children with a life limiting condition.
image supplied by MSC Cruises
MSC Bellissima: Where is it sailing to?
MSC Bellissima will be spending her inaugural season in the Mediterranean (with six embarkation ports) before spending winter 2019/2020 exploring the Emirates and the Gulf from Dubai.