Dear Mummy, you attended a glittering naming ceremony for MSC Cruises’ new flagship MSC Bellissima recently and was lucky enough to be one of the specially invited guests from around the world.
It’s not often you get a chance to let your hair down and celebrate in style, but you did just that at the party of the year….so far! You felt like Cinderella! You were delighted (and surprised) to be invited onboard for the celebrations in Southampton. You spent 2 nights onboard and had the chance to explore the ship before it set sail on her maiden voyage to Barcelona.
We love the sea but have never been on a family cruise. I’m sure a weekend of MSC celebrations would be enough to convert you into a cruise holidaymaker. Sadly little ones weren’t invited for the party, so try as I might to sneak into your suitcase, it wasn’t happening.
You embarked at City Cruise Terminal, Southampton and the MSC Bellissima was largest cruise ship to be christened in the UK and the biggest you’d ever been on. The lavish event was being held in a giant white marquee next to the liner at Southampton and it was geared up to be a real celebration.
Bellissima is a very apt name for this mega ship which means “possessing intense beauty, delighting the senses,” and you can see why. It has 2,217 cabins with a capacity of 5,686 guests, 19 decks, 12 restaurants and a 985-seat theatre on board.
In the heart of the ship there is a 96-metre street lined with shops, restaurants, bars and lounges, across two decks with a great vantage point and a walkway which encircles the promenade.
It also features an 80-metre LED dome/skyscreen which shows atmospheric vistas, sunsets and starry night skies. My mummy enjoyed the dome shows which played during the evenings and sitting in the cafes watching the world go by.
Attached to the promenade were six Swarovski staircases with an astonishing 640 crystals per step. The whole place seemed to sparkle, from the polished corridors to the mirrored elevators.
Dinning Out – Specialty Restaurants and Bars
There are three main restaurants onboard – the Lighthouse, Il Ciliegiio and Le Cerisier as well as the Marketplace buffet for the main dining options. My mummy ate at Le Cerisier for dinner and Marketplace for breakfast and lunch.
However she had a nosy at the other dinning options like steakhouse Butcher’s Cut and Japanese Kaito Teppanyaki and Sushi Bar, Spanish HOLA! Tapas Bar and brand new French inspired L’Atelier Bistrot. She enjoyed some wonderful food onboard the MSC Bellissima, but loved her home comfort food in Marketplace which was particularly tasty.
On the first evening she dressed up for dinner Le Cerisier and enjoyed a three-course meal which included a trio of duck (or smoked salmon) to start, some homemade ravioli and Mediterranean sea bass or (roasted New Zealand loin of lamb) for mains. This was finished with a very moreish slab of chocolate tonga bean tart.
With 12 dining venues and more than 20 bars and lounges, we can see that guests are spoiled for choice onboard the MSC Bellissima! My mummy loved the Sky Lounge which gave amazing views across the outdoor swimming pool at night and had live music.
Another place she adored while onboard was the Masters of the Sea pub. A good old-fashioned mixture of an Irish pub and a Northern pub. My mummy even enjoyed a cheeky Guinness which was pretty good! High praise someone who is half Irish, half Scottish!
Of course there were trendier options like the Champagne Bar and the Edge Cocktail Bar, but they were always very busy she walked past.
There are 13 shops selling 200 brands, with a strong luxury focus. It’s the perfect place to pick up exclusive products only available onboard.
My mummy loved the exclusive LEGO and Chicco toys and even brought me back a captain’s hat! Danish jewellery brand Trollbeads will sell the MSC Tattoo bead, which will show a sterling silver ship sailing through the MSC Cruises wind rose. British jewellery brand Infinity & Co has also created exclusive captain’s wheel charms for MSC.
The ship even has a chocolate shop by world-renowned pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury, and guests can see treats being made up before them with an open kitchen, a delight for anyone with a sweet tooth.
After walking around the ship for a couple of hours my mummy headed to her cabin where her luggage was waiting for her. It had a smart decor with a pull-out couch, desk, double bed, outdoor seating and a shower room and was comfortable and spacious.
The room included handy USB charging points and super soft sheets and a well stocked mini-bar. There are 10 different types of rooms to choose from onboard-really is something for everyone.
MSC Cruises is renowned for its family friendly programmes and my mummy couldn’t wait to explore the kids deck! All the facilities for families, children and teens are in one place and include the Doremi Studio Lounge, a dedicated lounge for all family activities; and the Doremi Tech Lab, which includes a 3D printer.
The kids’ area is the joint-biggest on an MSC Cruises’ ship, with separate rooms for different age groups, and including a baby room and a teen area. The baby room was designed in partnership with Italian babywear and manufacturer Chicco; the main kids’ rooms are all LEGO-themed.
There’s a Grand Canyon themed Aquapark on the top deck and a rope course which sits 80 metres above the water. Scary, I don’t think you’d catch my folks up there!!
There are so many activities for kids to do onboard from a virtual games arcade where you can immerse yourselves in authentic F1 racing simulators, a virtual reality maze (a first for any MSC cruise ship), a full size bowling alley and a host of other arcade games. Check out the official ship tour below!
Kids have loads of places to burn off energy too as there is a spacious sports hall (which also comes alive at night) for games such as basketball, tennis, volleyball and football and an open deck dedicated running track.
There are multiple pools onboard, as well as hot tubs and breakout areas to relax.
My mummy was lucky enough to catch the Kids Inauguration onboard, check out our video highlights to see all the action from the naming ceremony weekend!
Everyone was so friendly onboard and a chance encounter reaffirmed what my mummy already knew that the MSC team are one big happy family!
There’s never a dull moment on the MSC Bellissima and the ship offers six original Broadway-style shows that are unique to the ship: Pink, Ritmo, Solid Rock, Incantesimo, Quick, and Eden. All take place in the London Theatre.
Cirque du Soleil at Sea
But the main attraction had to be seeing Cirque du Soleil at Sea! What a fab partnership!
MSC Bellissima features a £20m stage that was custom-built to enable Cirque to show its jaw-dropping shows at sea. Both are performed at the Carousel Lounge, an intimate, 400-seat venue tucked away behind the ship’s casino that features a 40-meter-long LED screen and a 360-degree rotating stage.
We didn’t get to see the full shows, but we were treated to a live preview of the new performances at the spectacular naming ceremony. SYMA – Sail beyond Imagination takes you on the epic journey of a young sailor, brimming with imagination. VARÉLIA – Love in Full Colour puts a futuristic twist on a traditional medieval tale.
The MSC Aurea Spa on MSC Bellissima is a luxurious Balinese spa offering signature relaxation treatments to revitalise body and soul. Complete with a thermal area, beauty salon and nail boutique, the MSC Aurea Spa will leave you feeling pampered from head to toe. The MSC Yacht Club with luxurious accommodations spans three decks offering private facilities and butler service round-the-clock.
MSC Bellissima heralded the arrival the first digital cruise personal assistant, a voice-enabled, artificial intelligence called Zoe, installed in every single cabin. She speaks seven different languages and can help guests book shore excursions and activities and provide updates on the ship’s itinerary.
My mummy liked that ZOE could help track passengers’ children when they are elsewhere on the ship. Handy.
The MSC Bellissima has been fitted with features to reduce its environmental footprint including an exhaust gas cleaning system to improve emissions, an advanced wastewater treatment system, and LED lighting to save energy.
This was the largest ship event held by MSC Cruises in the UK, with 6,000 people on board over three days, including 2,300 seated at the naming ceremony on the quayside. It was an impressive sight. My mummy listened to guest speakers from MSC Cruises and enjoyed watching promotional videos about the company.
But one element on the ceremony really stood out. When Antonio Paradiso and Nicola Graham (Reuben’s Mummy and Founder of Reuben’s Retreat) took to the stage to talk about Rubens Retreat there wasn’t a dry eye in the house and my mummy was deeply moved by their story. MSC is doing a great job to support them. Please check out their page and find out more about this wonderful charity.
This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby hosted the ceremony and my mummy enjoyed a beautiful performance by tenors Andrea and Matteo Bocelli (see video) and a show by Cirque du Soleil at Sea before the decision was made to move the ceremony back on board the ship due to strong winds.
Screen legend Sophia Loren performed the ribbon-cutting duties as her role as role of godmother. The Bellissima is the 14th ship to be named by Italian singer and actress Loren, 84, for MSC Cruises. Even though it was held back onboard the ship in the Galleria the party atmosphere still remained.
Afterwards my mummy was treated to a 3-course gala dinner designed by two Michelin starred Raymond Blanc to celebrate his partnership with the MSC. The party continued into the early hours with a show from Nile Rogers and his band Chic in the London Theatre. It really was quite the experience!
So my mummy made it through the celebrations and her glass slippers didn’t fall off once! Not even on the ornate staircases. (Probably had something to do with her prince waiting at home for her!)
So what do you think of the MSC Bellissima? Isn’t she a beauty?
Love Bella x
Disclosure: My mummy was invited onboard the MSC Bellissima for her naming ceremony celebrations, all sparkle is her own.