I was an invited guest of MSC Cruises last week and had a chance to explore MSC Meraviglia shortly after she arrived at her new home in Brooklyn, New York. From this iconic region the ship will offer something very rare out of New York: year-round sailings to several popular destinations.
Meraviglia is the first of the Meraviglia-class ships built by the family-owned cruise line, and she is known for her sparkling Swarovski crystal stairways and a curved 262-foot-long LED screen built into the ceiling of the Mediterranean-style Galleria.
But this was not my first time on this beautiful ship. During the summer of last year, I booked a short 4-day cruise on Meraviglia when she homeported in Port Canaveral. So, I was already very familiar with the layout of the ship and felt right at home, instantly.
And yes, getting a crepe from the crepe station on deck 6 was high on my priority list.
MSC Cruises has made a bold move in moving the 171,598 GRT ship to a homeport in NYC, and strategically speaking it’s a smart move. Meraviglia will sail to three key destinations: the Caribbean, Bermuda, and Canada/New England.
These itineraries will vary with the season, but all year round the ship will offer sailings out of this region, giving cruisers who are new to the brand a taste of what the fastest-growing cruise line in the world has to offer.
MSC Meraviglia ship tour:
So why should you consider booking a cruise on this ship?
It’s New York City
Sure, it’s obvious from the title, but after taking a few cruises out of the Big Apple now, I can see why it’s the perfect place to start a cruise vacation. Not only does MSC Meraviglia in the Brooklyn cruise terminal offer epic views of lower Manhattan and the surrounding city, but sailing out of NYC also allows you to have a few land-based vacation days before or after the sailing.
I always recommend booking a pre-cruise hotel before a cruise if flying into the area. It takes the stress out of any flight delays or cancellations and allows you to unwind before you ever step foot on the ship. But if sailing out of NYC you might want to spend two or three days in a hotel so you can enjoy more time in this American icon of a city.
By the time your ship sails by the Statue of Liberty you will be singing “New York, New York” without even realizing it.
Plenty of dates to pick from
As I mentioned earlier, MSC is keeping Meraviglia in New York all year round. Most cruise ships will reposition to a different homeport during differing seasons of the year.
But with Meraviglia staying in Brooklyn it offers New York cruisers the opportunity to find a date on the calendar that works for them, no matter what time of year a vacation is most needed.
There are currently about 88 sailings being offered on the MSC ship that extend all the way to September of 2024. In the year 2024 alone there are 42 cruises offered on the Brooklyn-based cruise ship, with some itineraries as long as 20-nights.
Additionally, MSC offers flexibility with some sailings. For instance, there is a 10-night Bermuda and New England cruise on October 15th of 2023 on Meraviglia. But on that same date you can take a 21-night cruise on the ship which extends the cruise to the Caribbean after visiting Bermuda and New England.
There are several cruises like this on the schedule where cruisers can choose a week-long or multi-week cruise that leaves on the same date, making it a customizable experience for whatever your schedule allows.
The ship is built for all seasons
One of the reasons MSC decided to send Meraviglia to New York is based on the design of the ship. While it’s a great vessel to be enjoyed in the warmer months of summer, a sailing out of New York City in November could be challenging.
And here is where one of my favorite areas of the ship comes into play. The “Bamboo pool” and solarium on Meraviglia offers a glass, retractable roof, keeping out any cold weather.
Besides the heated pool there are 4 hot tubs in this area as well, with two that are cantilevered over the side of the ship. From my experience it’s always warm and humid in this area, and a great respite from even the windiest of days.
I was also told that all of the pools on the ship are heated, including the larger Atmosphere pool and aft pool at the back of the ship.
On top of this there are other interior portions of the ship for experiencing a little fun, including a large sports court used for basketball, soccer, pickleball, and other activities. So, whether you’re young or young at heart you can enjoy some physical activity on the ship without having to weather the elements on a cold day in January.
By the way, for those warmer months of cruising there’s a great waterpark on the top deck as well, complete with body water slides and tube water slides. And for those not afraid of heights a ropes course wraps around the waterpark area, offering great views at almost 200 feet above the surface of the ocean.
I actually tried the waterslides on a cold day last year and at least one of them had water heated to the perfect temperature, so it’s not a bad option for even a slightly chilly day at sea.
— Cruise Fever (@CruiseFever) April 21, 2023
A fantastic thermal suite
Speaking of places to stay warm and cozy on the ship, I have to mention the thermal suite. Not all cruise ships make the spa and thermal suite a priority. But on MSC Meraviglia and any other Meraviglia-class ships you can enjoy a space with ultra-relaxing heated loungers, hot tubs, saunas, and more.
The Aurea spa thermal area has a quiet room, rain showers with various scents and temperatures, two thalassotherapy pools, dry and wet saunas, and even a cold room so you can cool off a bit.
It’s a well-designed space in my opinion and the stonework, sounds, and temperature make it the perfect way to warm up and relax after a day of being outdoors on excursions.
Fun activities for families
MSC Cruises is a family-owned cruise line that loves to cater to families on board. Just across from the Sportsplex is an entertainment area that’s great for families wanting a little something extra. Besides a full size two-lane bowling alley, there are two formula one racing cars, and a flight simulator.
Our group tried the 4D interactive cinema and had a blast shooting zombies from our moving seats as we attempted to save the world. There is also an arcade right next to this area with some of the latest equipment installed.
A unique show with no bad seats
While I was on MSC Meraviglia last week I had the opportunity to enjoy a show that is exclusive to the ship. The Carousel Productions show called “House of Houdini” involved high-flying circus acts and performances that dazzled with special effects and music.
The show took place in the very back of the ship on deck 7 in Carousel Lounge. The 400-seat lounge puts the audience right in the action, and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. The LED screen adds to the illusions and spans the entire width of the space, allowing an even more immersive experience as cast members perform right over the heads of some audience members.
There is an extra cost to enjoy this show, but there is also a main auditorium where passengers can enjoy free nightly shows as well. In fact, the ship offers at least 6 different shows in Broadway Theater, which has a very modern and sleek design.
If you’ve never sailed on an MSC Cruises ship before, you owe it to yourself to give the line a try. While not as established in the United States as some of the other mainstream cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival, MSC offers some incredible fares that most families will find affordable. And what you get for that cruise fare is a great value.
MSC Meraviglia is a gorgeous ship that offers plenty to do while still offering luxury and comfort. It’s a class of ship I really enjoy. In fact, a couple years ago I flew all the way to Barcelona just to see sail on her sister ship for 3 nights on MSC Bellissima, a trip I would gladly pay for again.
MSC has come a long way in figuring out the American cruise market and what works along with what doesn’t. Meraviglia offering year-round sailings out of New York City is a big deal and should bring more awareness to the brand. If you have a chance to sail out of Brooklyn be sure to let us know about your experience.