Life is sweet aboard MSC Cruises’ fleet of 12 ships. Indoor piazzas and glittering décor onboard make you feel as though you’ve stepped onto the set of La Dolce Vita, while delicious — and authentic — Italian dishes trick your taste buds into thinking you’re in a Roman trattoria. You’ll struggle to snap back to your senses. But isn’t that the point of a cruise after all?
Here’s why we can’t, and you soon won’t be able to, get enough of the European cruise line.
The MSC ships themselves are lookers but it’s the elegant interiors that make heads turn. Picture every luxury imaginable — gold, crystal, marble — tastefully interspersed throughout every inch of the ships (partly the handiwork of Mrs. Raffaela Denat, whose husband, Gianluigi Aponte, founded the company). Dining rooms decked in plush velvet in deep, berry hues evoke Belle Époque glamour while warm, walnut-paneled cafés entice passengers to cozy up with a drink. The heart of MSC’s design concept is the stunning, Swarovski staircase found in the atrium of several ships in the fleet. It’s sparkly, extravagant and each step reportedly costs upwards of $7,000 — so tread lightly.
Indulging Like a Foodie
Admit it, part of the fun of cruising is having access to a seemingly endless selection of food and drink. Though possibility doesn’t always equal palate pleasing, it does aboard MSC ships and their countless dining options. Be it at the buffet or a-la-carte restaurants (the multi-level Black Crab among them), MSC ships bring true Italian eats to the high seas. Sip Segafredo coffee, snack on Nutella crêpes or dig into a juicy rib eye inside Eataly Steakhouse, modeled after New York’s Manzo restaurant. Even Kinder, the popular European confection not sold widely in the US, can be savored onboard. Talk about la dolce vita.
Relaxing in an MSC Yacht Club Suite
If round-the-clock concierge service and five-star treatment is on your vacation wish list, book a stateroom in the MSC Yacht Club. The ship-within-a-ship offers the ultimate VIP treatment for passengers, including access to a private pool as well as exclusive lounge and dining areas that serve gourmet dishes prepared by trained chefs, European wines and cocktails. If you’d rather take your meals elsewhere, like your balcony suite, your personal butler (available 24 hours a day) can see to that — and make sure your complimentary mini-bar is always replenished.
Planes, trains and automobiles aren’t the only way to see the world. With 12 ships in the MSC fleet, you can cruise to almost every continent. European itineraries take passengers throughout Eastern and Western parts of the continent, through the Black, Baltic and Norwegian Seas to ports such as Amsterdam, St. Petersburg and Stockholm. Itineraries in Africa and Australia are available, too. Because island clusters aren’t necessarily conducive to flying, we’re fans of seasonal sailings in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean Seas, where exploring back-to-back cities (think Ibiza, Sardinia and Cannes in one trip) doesn’t mean waiting in line at airports or train stations. Need more time to explore a specific port? MSC will arrange for pre and post-cruise hotel accommodations and book your transfer.
History on the High Seas
It’s the number 17 — not 13 as Americans are used to — that’s unlucky for Italians, which, ironically, is how long it took Gianluigi Aponte to add cruising to his thriving shipping business. He began the Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. (MSC) in 1970 with the purchase of second-hand cargo ships, operating between the Mediterranean and Somalia, and eventually expanded to other parts of Europe and Africa. MSC Cruises officially began in 1987 when Aponte purchased cruise ship operator Lauro Lines, which has grown organically from one ship to a fleet of 12. If Aponte was superstitious, we’re guessing he isn’t any longer because the leap into travel resulted in the creation of one of the most successful cruise lines in the world.