Having seen MSC Bellissima up close and personal under construction I was so excited to be able to compare the bare bones I saw in June against the finished product, and she really did not disappoint. MSC Bellissima is the second in the Meraviglia Class of ships for MSC. I was also fortunate to spend a day on board Meraviglia last year (see here), so I had an idea of what Bellissima could be like, but she is all this and more.
While most definitely sharing the MSC DNA, Bellissima is definitely an evolution of the product. With her own bold colour scheme, new food offerings and entertainment on board she has her own identity and character. In this review series we will look at all the aspects of Bellissima and what makes her stand out.
The Beauty of Design
I actually love the bold design of MSC ships. They exude opulence and European flair, and is very different from most lines. This may not be for all people, but it brings a fun and playfulness to the ship.
Let’s start, as they say, at the beginning. When you board Bellissima you arrive in the Infinity Atrium. This is largely the same as you would find on Meraviglia, with guest services and other facilities, together with a stage for live music and a bar.
Encompassing the atrium are the infamous sets of Swarovski stairs. Did you know each step costs around €8,000? As with other ships in the fleet, they bring this whole area to life.
Heading upwards you find yourself in the Galleria Bellissima. This expansive promenade runs from the middle of the ship right to the front. It’s a bustling area and full of energy, with shops, restaurants, bars and activities taking place throughout the day. The highlight is the roof, the longest LED dome at sea, it’s constantly changing the feel of the Galleria.
As you make your way along the Galleria you will find a number of bars, all with totally different vibes and feels, including:
- The Edge Bar, which is perfect to grab a coffee and watch the world go by.
- The Bellissima Bar and Lounge. Perfect for dancing the night away to live music
- The Champagne bar, an opuelent space to enjoy bubbles on Gala night.
- The TV Studio and Bar. A multi-functional space where you can expect activities and all sorts taking place all day long
- Then there is the Master of the Sea pub. I’m not normally one to really enjoy pub concepts on ships, but I actually really love this space on Bellissima.
For chocolate lovers you have to make a beeline for the Jean Philippe Chocolate & Café. It’s a true highlight of the ship where you can indulge in your sweet tooth. A personal favourite of mine is the various flavours of macarons – my mouth is watering thinking about it.
Heading forward you’ll find yourself in the London Theatre. Over the course of a typical cruise there will be six original West End-Style shows. That’s an incredible amount of entertainment! Did you know that all this requires 500 costumes, 60 different pairs of hats and 110 different hats?
Heading back from the Infinity Atrium get ready to place some bets as we come to the large Casino. Continuing on we come to one of the most unique features of Belissima, the Carousel lounge. While this sort of space can be found on a number of ships, what sets this apart is that it’s purpose-built venue to meet the needs of Cirque du Soleil. MSC Bellissima will feature two original Cirque shows, Syma and Varelia. The Cirque experience costs €15, or €35 if you want to enjoy dinner as well.
While there are two sets of lifts front and mid-ship, let’s take one of the two panoramic lifts up to the sun deck. These two hidden lifts can be found either side of the Atrium and are a fun way to travel between decks.
Here you find yourself at the Atmosphere Pool. I have to say this is one of my very favourite pool areas on any ship. It’s expansive, comfortable and I could easily see myself enjoying a day of sun here. There are two large pools and wet areas that dominate the area. There is also a large LED screen for watching films, events and other activities. Overlooking the pool, you’ll also find the Sky Lounge, a chic space to enjoy nibbles and a cocktail at sunset.
Getting a bit chilly? Head to the indoor pool, with a magrodome roof that can be opened up depending on the weather. Again, this is a well thought out space with jacuzzis and pool. Heading aft there is a further pool area, the Horizon Pool. This tiered area overlooking the wake of the ship I found to be a tranquil oasis to just be. Aurea and Yacht Club guests benefit from their own pool areas as well.
The Beauty of Comfort
Bellissima features a wide variety of cabins including inside, oceanview and balconies. Typically, rooms include lots of storage, two single beds that can be converted to a double, spacious bathroom, interactive TV, telephone, mini bar and a safe. All rooms on Bellissima also feature Zoe, but more about her later. Some rooms also feature a sofa bed.
You can choose to upgrade your experience on board, from the standard Bella package; to Fantastica which gives you cabins in different parts of the ship, priority dining and 24-hour room service; and then the Aurea experience including a drinks package, spa benefits, priority boarding and an exclusive sundeck.
For solo travellers, the ship also offers a number of interior studio cabins. On top of this, there are even clever modular cabins. These family cabins can be clustered together to accommodate up to 10 guests in comfort.
Want the suite life? MSC was one of the first cruise lines to introduce a suit only area, called the Yacht Club. This exclusive area features a large lounge and restaurant with floor to ceiling windows that overlook the bow of the ship. It also features its very own sun deck. Interestingly, guests staying here can opt for a variety of cabin types, including an interior suite all the way up to a Royal Suite.
MSC for Me, featuring Zoe
Of all experiences on board I was really excited to try Zoe, the first AI cruise assistant at sea. Think of her like Alexa or Siri. Situated in every cabin on the ship, she is ready to respond to guests’ questions and needs. She has been programmed and trained to respond to more than 800 of the most commonly asked questions with thousands of different variants of each question, as well as interacting with other parts of the cabin such as the interactive TV. I used Zoe a lot while on board, and while she still needs to learn one or two things, there’s so much potential with this idea. I’m excited to see where they take her in the future!
This builds on the MSC for Me app that debuted on MSC Meraviglia. The app acts like a personal concierge allowing you to check-in online, guide you round the ship, look at what’s going on and plan your cruise in real time, including purchasing various services. It’s a really good app, in fact one of the best I’ve tried. Head over to this blog in the Sea to Z Guide where I talk more about technology and cruising.
Part 2 of this review series coming soon where we will talk about food on board, the entertainment and other aspects of this brand new ship.
Head here to go back to my Beauty at Sea series.