First Im­pres­sions

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - All Eyes On Deck -

The name of the ship (pro­nounced mehr-ah- vee- ya) means “won­der” in Ital­ian, and won­der she sparks. Not just with her mam­moth size, but with the daz­zling 5,000-square-foot LED dome in the two-deck in­side prom­e­nade; the in­ti­mate Cirque du Soleil at Sea din­ner theater; and the game-chang­ing smart ship tech­nol­ogy, MSC for Me.

Even if you didn’t know that “Mediter­ranean” is part of the line’s name, you’d get that vibe from the mo­ment you step on board. Rem­i­nis­cent of the lovely strolling boule­vards of the Med, the 315-foot-long Gal­le­ria Mer­av­iglia cen­tral prom­e­nade sets the stage for that ex­pe­ri­ence. High-end bou­tiques (we’re talk­ing Ar­mani and Gucci) and deca­dent din­ing op­tions lure you in while the ever-chang­ing shows on that LED sky screen — “Look, it’s the Sis­tine Chapel! Wait, it’s an un­der-the-sea fan­tasy! — en­tice you to linger.

Glitz and glam­our are plen­ti­ful (i.e. those sig­na­ture Swarovski stair­cases), but sump­tu­ous rather than overdone de­sign wins the day with rich fab­rics and re­strained use of dra­matic color that’s par­layed where it makes the most im­pact, such as in the crim­son-splashed casino. Each of the 19 decks is named for a won­der of the world, so look for art de­pict­ing the likes of Angkor Wat, the Eif­fel Tower, and the Taj Ma­hal.

State­rooms are a rest­ful re­treat, at 205 square feet for the plen­ti­ful bal­cony cab­ins. But ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions, much like the rest of the MSC Mer­av­iglia ex­pe­ri­ence, are flex­i­ble. Fam­i­lies can opt for mod­u­lar join­ing state­rooms sleep­ing up to 10, or maybe the du­plex suite at 560 square feet (plus large bal­cony with whirlpool bath). The spec­trum ranges from 130-square-foot stu­dio cab­ins for solo trav­el­ers to the plush suites of the Yacht Club (up to 700 square feet), which in­clude but­ler ser­vice. Al­to­gether, 2,244 state­rooms can sleep up to 5,714 pas­sen­gers.

For pure pam­per­ing, book a treat­ment at the lux­u­ri­ous Ba­li­nese MSC Aurea Spa, which of­fers sig­na­ture re­lax­ation treat­ments, a ther­mal area, beauty sa­lon, and nail bou­tique.

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