MSC Cruises is Generating Major Buzz in Miami. Here's Why.
The long and storied list of celebs who’ve called Miami home has just gotten its newest addition—this time, a famous beauty known for her international appeal, lavish tastes and unrivaled personality. Her name is Meraviglia. MSC Meraviglia, to be exact. And when she sets sail for New York and the Caribbean, you’re going to want to be on board.
Beyond the international appeal (which you'll find in her passengers, too, who come from all over the world) and those lavish tastes (the Swarovski steps may well be the most photographed staircase offshore), MSC Meraviglia boasts unrivaled connections (one upshot: Cirque du Soleil at Sea) and a long list of additional attributes. Emphasis on long. See that domed walkway below? It's the famed Galleria Meraviglia, topped by the longest LED dome at sea. So while you eat, stroll or get your groove on along the promenade, a 5,200-square-foot screen overhead serves as your atmospheric digital sky, complete with sunrises, sunsets and starry nights.
The ship also serves up stellar cuisine (the two-Michelin-starred chef Ramón Freixa, for one, is the creative force behind the exclusive new Hola! Tapas Bar); plus fabulous amenities (some say the Aurea Spa alone is worth the trip); and in-depth Caribbean cultural excursions (many courtesy of the line’s exclusive partnership with Martha Stewart). Bonus: MSC Meraviglia will be the first MSC Cruises ship to call on Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, MSC Cruises' extraordinary private island in the Bahamas. Little wonder this Swiss-based global cruise line is quickly becoming a household name in the U.S.
So yes, her Miami arrival is a huge deal—not just because it marks American travelers’ first chance to hop aboard one of MSC Cruises’ newest and most buzzed about ships without having to hop across the pond, but also because your next Caribbean cruise will come with some of the most legendary offerings on the high seas. To help give you a better sense of what that will look like, we sent travel influencer @jeanatravels on a recon mission while MSC Meraviglia was still sailing the Italian Riviera. Read on for the intel.
There’s entertainment you can’t see anywhere else
MSC Meraviglia takes the dinner-and-a-show concept to acrobatic new heights with exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea performances of two exceptional shows: SONOR and VIAGGIO. Set in The Carousel Lounge—an intimately sized and technologically advanced theater-in-the-round-style space built specifically for Cirque du Soleil acts—these productions instantly draw the audience into the high-stakes action, twice a night, six nights per week. “The talented artists make for a heart-pounding show, and there is literally not a bad seat in the house,” reports Jeana.
Factor in pre-show cocktails and/or a three-course meal, and your evening is the very picture of glam. (Cue the Insta-posts.) Not surprisingly, both Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows are hot-ticket items, so be sure to pre-book before, well, that ship has sailed.
The nightlife is next-level
Music streams from every corner of this ship, home to no fewer than 17 bars and lounges. Favorites include Attic Club (where you can groove to techno and house music) and Champagne Bar (where you'll hear live music while savoring bubbly, oysters and caviars from around the world). You can even catch live acts in the reception area.
But the pièce de résistance on the MSC Meraviglia social scene happens once per cruise, when you and your fellow guests turn out in your chicest whites for the ship’s epic White Party. “I’ve been to quite a few cruise parties and this one was the most impressive,” said Jeana. “More people than we ever saw in one spot on the entire cruise turned out to enjoy themselves.” On hand to entertain them? For starters, dancers seemingly afloat on the walkway overhead.
True to its European roots, MSC Meraviglia also hosts a number of street party-style events with music and dancing till the wee hours in the Galleria Meraviglia.
You’ll never tire of looking up—or down
Speaking of the Galleria Meraviglia, we'd be remiss if we didn't tell you a bit more about it. Look skyward, and you’ll see not just the gorgeous digital sunsets and starry nights we mentioned, but also fireworks displays, digital replicas of the Sistine Chapel and maybe even virtual merpeople. The 5,200-square-foot LED screen is ever-changing—and always magical. “It was so captivating," reports Jeana. "People just stopped to stare no matter how many times they’d seen it."
Of course, what's underfoot is no less dazzling: The famous Swarovski stairs are so fantastically blinged-out, your every step feels paparazzi-worthy. Search #swarovskistairs to get a better idea—and start plotting your pose (and outfit and accessories) before you even leave home.
The suite life is sweet
With fabulous en-suite amenities, MSC Cruises puts as much emphasis on your stateroom experience as anything else. Sailing in an innovative, 559-square-foot two-story Duplex Suite (one of only eight on the ship)—with a private whirlpool tub on the balcony, among other standouts—Jeana got to quite literally soak in all the attention to detail. “The hot tub was my favorite!” she said. “But it was just one of a number of luxurious touches in the suite that gave an upscale feel to the cruise.” The interactive TV, espresso machine and not one but two en-suite bathrooms—one with a full-size tub—were also on that list, according to Jeana.
If you want an even more exclusive experience, book a stateroom in the MSC Yacht Club, an all-inclusive VIP experience on decks 14-19 at the front of the ship, where you'll find 24-hour butler and concierge service, plus a dedicated lounge, dining room, sundeck, and pool—and complimentary beverages not just within the club, but at all the ship's bars and restaurants.
The food is phenomenal
MSC Meraviglia is home to a perfect mix of MSC Cruises restaurants. One beloved newcomer is the Butcher’s Cut, an American steakhouse that serves up generous portions of dry-aged, naturally raised beef and lamb, plus innovative takes on comfort food sides and desserts (see: the banana date pudding with rum toffee sauce).
Then there's Kaito, where you'll find a sushi bar and tableside teppanyaki. “We were thrilled with the teppanyaki dinner," says Jeana. "The food was incredible.” Of course, the chefs' performance art is on point, too—party tricks and banter included.
And Ramón Freixa's contribution to the mix bears repeating: Head to the new Hola! Tapas Bar to see what happens when a chef with two Michelin stars turns his talents to Mediterranean small plates. (Spoiler alert: foodie heaven.)
And if sweets are your sweet spot, good news: MSC Meraviglia has the award-winning master chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury on board. In fact, just the window to the Chocolaterie is a show-stopper: Picture a moving sculpture of ornate, interlocking chocolate wheels. The spectacle continues inside, where Jean-Philippe’s cocoa-wielding wizards turn out dangerously addictive bonbons, mendiants and tablettes de chocolat in an open kitchen. “It was mesmerizing to watch all the different steps that go into the incredible final product,” Jeana says. For good measure, Maury is also the mastermind behind a gourmet ice cream parlor and creperie on the ship’s promenade.
There’s a pool for that
Another of MSC Meraviglia’s charms: The ship has a pool to suit every style of swimmer. For the aquatic thrill seeker, there’s the Polar Aquapark, home to several smaller pools, plus waterfalls and an elaborate maze of waterslides guaranteed to thrill family travelers.
Atmosphere Pool at the center of the ship is the choice for sun worshipers: Loungers abound on the spacious surrounding deck, so fighting for a chair isn't a thing. You’ll also find games, quizzes and dance parties here on any given day.
The MSC Yacht Club-exclusive Horizon Pool on a private sundeck at the top of the ship is the optimal spot for anyone seeking a moment of zen—a spot made all the more calming by the panoramic ocean views. And given that this is a saltwater pool, you'll feel even more at one with the sea.
And for water babies who need their swim fix even in the event of a little rain, MSC Meraviglia is also home to the indoor/outdoor Bamboo pool whose roof slides open and closed at the touch of a button.
You'll meet the whole world on one ship
MSC Meraviglia’s Caribbean sailings from Miami will offer a most interesting cocktail of vacation experiences: While you’ll revel in tropical beaches, lush landscapes and laid-back rhythms on shore, you’ll return to a cosmopolitan home base. We’re not talking about just the diverse dining options—though menus from the likes of Spain's Ramon Freixa and Germany's Harald Wohlfahrt are truly transporting. We’re also talking about everything from the shops (see: La Profumeria or Angolo dell'Oggetto for any global perfume or designer accessory you could want) to the array of languages you'll hear among your fellow travelers. Put otherwise: The ship presents a unique opportunity to rub elbows with people from across the globe.
During her own fantastic voyage, Jeana observed that "each evening was a mini-adventure—a chance to connect with people we wouldn't have met otherwise." Next time, be among them.