Editor’s note: TPG’s Ashley Kosciolek accepted a free trip from MSC Cruises to sail from MSC Meraviglia’s new homeport in Brooklyn in New York City. The opinions expressed below are entirely hers and weren’t subject to review by the line.
For the first time, MSC Cruises has based a ship in New York. Given that the vessel, MSC Meraviglia, is the fifth-largest in the line’s fleet of two dozen ships in terms of tonnage and the sixth-largest by passenger capacity, the ship’s presence in the Big Apple is a big deal. As one colleague astutely pointed out, when it’s docked there, it’s the largest hotel in the city.
I recently sailed on MSC Meraviglia out of its Red Hook homeport in Brooklyn, and I have mixed feelings. Overall, the ship is lively and aesthetically beautiful. Its specialty restaurants and nightly shows are some of the most consistently superb on any vessel, and it offers one heck of a luxury product in its Yacht Club suite enclave.
However, passenger flow is an issue, with many public spaces so crowded they’re uncomfortable, and service is painfully slow in some bars and restaurants. You’ll likely end up paying a lot more than you originally planned because some of the most enticing things to do come with added fees. And, as my travel companion so succinctly put it, I’ve never been told “no” so many times on a cruise.
Here, I’ll take you through some of the activities I tried, the places I ate and the experience I had so you can better determine if MSC Meraviglia is right for your next voyage.
Overview of MSC Meraviglia
MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia was the first in the line’s Meraviglia Class of ships. When it debuted in 2017, it became the line’s largest vessel, with space for up to 5,655 people at capacity (4,475 at double occupancy). It has since been overtaken, in terms of passenger capacity, by subsequent vessels in the Meraviglia Class, as well as those in the World Class.
The ship exudes the same glitz that’s typical of other MSC vessels, despite its mass-market appeal and penchant for attracting budget travelers. Lavish artwork, chrome accents and bold jewel tones convey a sense of opulence throughout public spaces, and no ship in the fleet would be complete without an atrium staircase adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals.
Like MSC’s other modern ships, MSC Meraviglia has an extra-fee chocolate shop on board — this one through a partnership with chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury — where you can purchase chocolate, macarons, candy and specialty coffees.