About Time: You Set Sail Onboard MSC GrandiosaBy Francesca Brooking
November 2019 marked the christening of MSC Cruises’ brand new cruise ship, MSC Grandiosa. It was a celebration filled with fireworks and festivities as she set sail on her first official journey up and down Hamburg’s River Elbe. Now, with her Mediterranean itineraries in full swing, MSC Grandiosa is set to be the hot new cruise of 2020 but what is it really like onboard? We were lucky enough to be invited to review MSC Grandiosa and here’s what we found out:
MSC Grandiosa is the first of three Meraviglia Plus-class cruises set to operate for MSC Cruises. A flagship in MSC’s fleet, she is the newest and most innovative cruise yet. At 331 metres and with a capacity of more than 6,300 passengers, she is also currently the largest.
The most striking feature about the cruise is her 111-metre long indoor promenade lit overhead by a 93-metre ‘digital sky’, an LED screen depicting a stunning myriad of colours and patterns. If you wander along the promenade to the centre of the ship, you’ll find the Infinity Atrium, so named for its two Swarovski crystal spiral staircases. This dazzling display is the perfect spot for a photo or two in your favourite outfit and a professional photographer will be on hand to help you get that perfect shot.
MSC Cruises has worked hard to ensure that all its guests enjoy the utmost comfort onboard MSC Grandiosa no matter what room they stay in. There are a total 2,421 cabins featuring fourteen different styles of accommodation on the cruise. These range from interior studios to MSC Yacht Club Royal Suites. The interior suites, as their name suggests, don’t have windows but the cabin is comfortable, clean and modern so it doesn’t feel too much like you’re missing out on the sea views.
For those who want to watch the world go by in the privacy of their own cabin, opt for any of the Ocean Views, Family Cabins, Balconies, Suites with a Private Whirlpool and two-storey Duplex Suites. Yacht Club members have exclusive access to a choice of three spacious suites, complete with balconies, an ensuite bathroom with a bathtub and a cosy lounging area. No matter which cabin you choose, each one has an ensuite bathroom, interactive TV, minibar, room service and ZOE, the onboard personal cruise assistant.
We stayed in a balcony suite. It had a large and wonderfully comfortable double bed, a sofa and a desk with a mirror. The large interactive TV not only offered a stellar selection of TV and films for free but it also allowed us to see our schedule for the day, browse restaurant menus and showed us how much money we had spent.
We could change the temperature of the cabin and push open the sliding doors to the balcony for a pleasant breeze on our faces. We also had great fun chatting to ZOE, the onboard personal virtual assistant. Not too dissimilar from Amazon and Google’s own creations, this voice-enabled assistant can speak seven languages. Don’t try to ask it too many in-depth questions, however, as ZOE’s knowledge only covers life onboard the cruise.
MSC Cruises is no stranger to ensuring that all its cruises are well-known dining destinations and MSC Grandiosa is no exception. The cruise’s buffet-style restaurant covers a range of popular international cuisines, including French, Asian and Italian. The buffet is open for an impressive twenty hours of the day, catering for early risers, late snackers and anyone in between.
For those who prefer to be a little more formal, there are four main restaurants which offer a choice of high-quality cuisines with a different menu selection every day. Each one of these restaurants has impeccable service, elegance and style.
MSC Grandiosa is also home to no less than five speciality restaurants, offering the very best international cuisine. Steak enthusiasts will love the American-style steakhouse, Butcher’s Cut, which offers a range of succulent Angus beefsteaks, hearty fish dishes and creamy sauces. The burrata beet salad appetiser is particularly divine, bursting with aromatic flavour that complements the sweet tang of balsamic vinegar.
Fans of Mediterranean cooking will enjoy the Spanish tapas restaurant HOLA! Created by the renowned two-Michelin-starred chef, Ramón Freixa. Designed to be a social dining experience, the restaurant is warm and inviting, serving up colourful sharing platters of bite-sized delights over a glass or two of sangria.
For a taste of France, head over to the cheerful Parisian bistro, L’Atelier Bistrot. The restaurant has its own lounge space for guests to enjoy a cocktail accompanied by the sound of live jazz before dinner. L’Atelier Bistrot is also home to a fascinating collection of original sketches from the renowned French artist, Edgar Degas.
The menu at L’Atelier Bistrot is a fine example of traditional French cooking. If you’re in the mood for a showstopper, order the pan-friend Dover sole. It arrives in a copper dish, lid and all, and the waiter makes a great show of de-boning the fish with expert precision. Other speciality restaurants include the sumptuous Kaito Sushi Bar and the Kaito Teppanyaki Bar where the chefs prepare your food in front of your very eyes.
For something sweet, cross the promenade to Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Café. There you’ll find a chocolate and coffee bar designed by the French Master Pâtissier Chocolatier, Jean-Philippe Maury. Enjoy a mouthful or two of delicate truffles, create your own chocolate bar or indulge in a mug of mouth-watering hot chocolate.
I enjoyed every visit to the speciality restaurants. However, it’s worth noting that they’re not included in the pre-paid food and drinks packages like the buffet and main restaurants so you will have to pay additional costs. Vegetarians and vegans may also struggle with the lack of options on offer at these restaurants but they can still find an adequate selection at the dining destinations included in the package.
MSC Grandiosa is packed with activities to keep you busy while you’re at sea. The cruise ship has a staggering fourteen passenger decks, twenty bars and lounges, four swimming pools and fourteen jacuzzis. Just some of the highlights onboard MSC Grandiosa include:
Guests can soak up the sun by the atmosphere pool. It’s illuminated by elegant lighting and a giant LED screen which comes alive at night in a dazzling display.
Masters of the Sea Cocktail Bar
This intimate cocktail bar makes you feel like you’ve stepped into an English pub – just slightly more modern. The decor is warm and inviting, with a chestnut-wooden bar to match the tables and chairs. Squashy circular booths can be found at the back of the bar and a darts board hangs on the wall. Masters of the Sea specialises in a wide range of cocktails, aperitifs, beers and more.
MSC Aurea Spa
You can’t sail on MSC Grandiosa without trying its dedicated Aurea Spa. Treat yourself to the ultimate relaxing experience at this luxurious Balinese spa, complete with a thermal area, nail boutique and beauty salon. There is a wealth of pampering experiences on offer to help you feel your absolute best during your cruise.
Cirque du Soleil At Sea
MSC Cruises is proud to be working with the world-famous Montreal-based live entertainment company, Cirque du Soleil, to bring you never-seen-before performances at sea. Cirque du Soleil has produced two exclusive shows which are performed twice a night, six nights a week. Guests can book tickets to enjoy a cocktail or dinner in the Carousel Lounge before the show at an additional cost.
MSC Grandiosa offers a wide range of entertainment to keep the whole family happy. There is a children’s playroom, a full-size bowling alley, an aquapark, F1 simulators, a 4D cinema, an arcade, a multi-purpose karaoke bar, casino, comedy club and TV studio. There’s no shortage of things to do onboard the cruise, although it’s worth noting that most of these activities come with a little extra cost.
For those who like to keep fit on holiday, MSC Grandiosa has a fully-equipped gym and fitness centre with glorious views across the ship. There is also a power walking track around the entire exterior of deck 16.
MSC Foundation Shop
Guests can learn about MSC Cruises’ sister project, MSC Foundation, a charity that supports marine and environmental initiatives across the globe. The charity also assists with providing disaster relief and emergency supplies directly to affected areas. All profits from items sold in the shop go towards funding this organisation.
Described by the cruise line as its most sustainable cruise ship yet, MSC Grandiosa is said to hold the title of one of the most environmentally advanced ships at sea to date. Setting the standards for modern-day cruising, she’s the most energy-efficient MSC cruise yet, using 28% less fuel consumption. What’s more, the ship is the first in the world to use a Radiated Noise system to reduce her impact on marine life. She uses a highly advanced wastewater purification system, smart heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. MSC is also the first major cruise line with carbon-neutral marine operations in 2020.
MSC Grandiosa Review: Our Verdict
All in all, MSC Cruise’s sustainable new model sets MSC Grandiosa apart from her other competitors and indeed other cruises in the fleet. It marks the beginning of a new conscious age of cruising which is a really exciting achievement to see.
As for luxury, MSC Grandiosa has all the trimmings, boasting Instagram-worthy Swarovski Crystal staircases, comfortable rooms and staff to attend to your every need. Even though I would have perhaps liked to see a few more vegetarian options in the speciality restaurants, the food onboard is still exquisite – fresh, flavoursome and consistently top quality. Without a doubt, a holiday on the MSC Grandiosa is an absolute treat that the whole family will adore.
A seven-night sailing onboard MSC Grandiosa departing 15 February 2020 from Genoa visiting Civitavecchia, Palermo, Valletta, Barcelona and Marseille starts from £479 per person when booking on a Fantastica package including a premium drinks package. For more information or to book visit www.msccruises.co.uk or call 0203 426 3000.