Cruise evaluate: crusing at sea with the model new MSC Virtuosa
With international travel still wrapped up in a host of complex rules and with stay prices skyrocketing, there is no better time to consider taking a UK vacation break this year. Many cruise lines have chosen to hit the UK market this year and one of the best ones to consider is MSC Cruises. They pulled out all the stops by bringing their newest cruise ship: MSC Virtuosa.
With a capacity of 6,300 passengers, this Meraviglia Plus class ship is one of the largest ships in the world, but it has been sailed with a reduced capacity so you never feel crowded or unsafe. And if you’ve never sailed before and wondered if it’s suitable for all ages, all you need to do is read on and discover the plethora of activities and restaurants that will impress the most discerning diners.
Upgrading to an MSC Yacht Club Suite includes exclusive access to the Yacht Club pool, bar and restaurant
If you’ve never sailed before it is probably good to live up to expectations as cabins are generally smaller than hotel rooms, but that’s because they instead have more balcony rooms so you can enjoy the amazing ocean views from the comfort of your cabin . Their bed is more sumptuous than most cruise lines we’ve seen, the wardrobe is plentiful, and helpfully they have USB ports as well as their standard European sockets. Luckily we also had a drinks package that covered the mini bar in our room.
I would strongly recommend upgrading to suites in their MSC Yacht Club, which is like a “ship within a ship”. In addition to a more spacious cabin, you get a separate check-in, a private butler, access to the private Yacht Club pool and the bar as well as the exclusive restaurant.
At the Marketplace buffet, guests can enjoy freshly prepared pasta and handmade pizzas
There’s an embarrassment of riches to excite these taste buds, they have ten extraordinary restaurants including five specialty restaurants. The focus is either on the marketplace buffet or the formal dining rooms. The menus change daily so the chances that you will be forced to eat the same dish every day are zero. In the market square, dishes such as pasta are freshly prepared in front of your eyes, the pizzas are handmade in an open kitchen and there is even a live mozzarella station.
The specialty restaurants are as diverse as possible. The most popular is Butcher’s Cut, where you can experience the juiciest, most tender steaks on the high seas. If you want to be entertained while you dine, head to Kaito Teppanyaki or their sushi bar for a casual but eclectic lunch. Whether it’s the raw fish quality or the sirloin steak quality, it’s the best you can get from land-based Michelin restaurants.
They also made bold decisions by opening Indochine and HOLA! Tacos and Cantina. Expect unwavering authenticity so you can experience mezcal tastings or Vietnamese ice cream desserts. Chocolate lovers will be delighted to see award-winning pastry chef and chocolatier Jean-Philippe Maury return, and you can also create your own bespoke chocolate bar.
The standout bar is the MSC Starship Club, where you’ll be served by Rob, the humanoid robot bartender
With 21 bars and lounges, it is quite possible that you will go to another bar three times a day, but have not yet visited all of the bars at the end of your cruise. Their beverage packages are outrageously cheap, especially when compared to other cruise lines. The smoked cocktails in the Sky Lounge and Bar are simply sensational. The highlight, however, is the MSC Starship Club, an immersive bar experience where Rob, the humanoid robot bartender, serves 16 signature drinks or you can create your own brew. Most of the other bars have live music throughout the evening.
The gaming section includes a hyper-realistic F1 simulator
You might be surprised when I say window shopping is high on the list of things to do to consider, but they have over 240 luxury brands on board and their iconic thoroughfare is thanks to the stunning LCD displays on the With constant change an important focus is placed on the settings. Or just admire the 80,000 Swarovski crystals used in their sparkling stairs.
Swimming pools are an integral part of the cruise, and there’s a lot to offer here with two outdoor pools and one indoor pool, plus four outdoor hot tubs and four indoor hot tubs. Even if the British weather isn’t entirely Mediterranean, you can laze around in the pool with a refreshing cocktail in hand. They also have gorgeous water slides on top of the ship that are rarely seen on other large cruise lines.
While areas like saunas and steam rooms may still be closed, they still offer an extensive range of personal treatments with unique offerings like a hot stone massage, which is especially beneficial when you’re experiencing the after-effects of over-indulging in the premium beverage packages.
One area that adults can enjoy surprisingly is their gaming area. Enjoy craft cocktails while bowling, step into a hyper-realistic F1 simulator or go on a shoot ’em up adventure in their interactive cinema.
Stage shows are based around classics such as the musical “The Big Apple”
The star of the show are, so to speak, the cinema productions of the cruise (there are four complete cinema productions). The seating, the choreography and the stage technology can compete with the best from the West End. The shows are dedicated to classics like the musical “The Big Apple” and “Capriccio” with lively Italian opera singers who resemble the three tenors. There are also comedy nights and live music galore. There will not be a moment when you will struggle to find entertainment aboard this majestic cruise ship.
Cruises from the south of England operate from the Southampton City Cruise Terminal. The best way to get there is by using the world class yet affordable Blacklane private car services.
Address: 101, Berth, Western Docks, Herbert Walker Ave, Southampton SO15 1HJ
Phone: 0203 4263010
Photos courtesy of MSC Cruises.