Meraviglia – a game changer for MSC Cruises

L-R clockwise: Marco de Jorio with MSC group executive chairman Gianluigi Aponte; Meraviglia’s Atrium; Pierfrancesco Vago with Oliviero Morelli and Arnaud Le Joncour at the entrance to the Galleria L-R clockwise: Marco de Jorio with MSC group executive chairman Gianluigi Aponte; Meraviglia’s Atrium; Pierfrancesco Vago with Oliviero Morelli and Arnaud Le Joncour at the entrance to the Galleria

Two words have been reverberating around MSC Meraviglia throughout the four days since handover by STX France.

They have been heard from the lips of the company’s top executives, from suppliers, crew, ports and service providers, passengers, travel agents and media from across the globe: game changer.

Since last Thursday several thousand guests have had the opportunity to be onboard MSC Cruises’ latest delivery – the first of 11 (including options) next generation ships arriving until 2026.

Seatrade Cruise News had the chance to first view the ship – dubbed by MSC as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World' (Meraviglia means wonder in Italian) – through the eyes of marine interior designer, Marco de Jorio.

De Jorio Design International first worked with MSC Cruises on the interiors of sisterships Lirica and Opera delivered in 2003 and 2004 and has been involved in the design of the cruise line’s new ships ever since.

‘We started working on the “ship for all seasons” as MSC Meraviglia-class is called in 2011,’ reminded de Jorio standing on Deck 5 of the silver-themed sparkling three storey atrium with glass mirror ceiling and two sweeping Swaroski studded glass staircases(not hidden away in the Yacht Club like on previous editions) but located in the heart of the ship for all to see.

From there we proceed one deck up to the impressive 96mtr long Mediterranean-style indoor entertainment promenade, Galleria Meraviglia, featuring an 80mtr LED covered sky creating a changing atmosphere 24 hours a day.

With visual and effects, the promenade is undeniably the social centre of the ship housing trendy bars and restaurants, boutiques, cafés, an ice cream parlour, a chocolate shop(Yran & Storbraaten Architects designed), sushi bar, steak house, English pub, and Tillberg-designed TV Studio and karaoke.

‘This two-deck “urban space” is certainly Meraviglia’s wow-factor commented a group of French travel agents,’ as they stood looking up towards the colourful LED roof.

Oliviero Morelli, president of MSC Cruises Japan was almost speechless on seeing it remarking, ‘I can’t wait to have this class of ship in Asia.’

De Jorio who has designed around 75% of Meraviglia’s interior called the promenade layout, ‘an idyllist urban street with marble-effect road and reflecting our initial concept which MSC Cruises’ executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said he wanted it to have the feel of Rome’s Cinecittà - the largest film studio in Europe.’

Standing on the bridge spanning the top deck of the Galleria, Vago told Seatrade, ‘the width of the ship (45mtr versus normal 38mtr) has given us several options for innovation.’

As well as the Galleria, he highlighted the new 95 suite three-deck (previously two) MSC Yacht Club including private restaurant (located elsewhere on other ships) and the Cirque du Soleil at Sea – a 1,000 sq mtr theatre located aft, ‘the most expensive area of the ship if not on earth, with its multitude of behind the scenes technology and equipment.’

And a builder’s view on the Galleria: ‘I love this space with the changing LED ceiling overhead and then the penetration of light from outside at the approach and the ability to be able to stroll and buy, or drink an Expresso (or something stronger!) or eat an ice cream - everything you like to do on a holiday,’ said Arnaud Le Joncour, svp sales and marketing STX France.

MSC ceo Gianni Onorato, said, ‘our plan was not to build a big ship but a rich ship [in offerings].’

He highlighted the ten different types of cabins, 75% with balconies, seven different areas for children including a new family buffet area, two full-size ten pin bowling lanes, flexible dining (new for MSC) alongside classic two-sittings each evening and Jean-Philippe Maury’s open-fronted chocolate shop and kitchen and chance to create your own chocolate bar on an ipad and watch it being made, as his game-changers.

In an endless list of new departures for MSC, Meraviglia is also its first ship to use wearable devices for activities such as cabin entry, making purchases, onboard organisation, digital wayfinding, giving parents the location of children on the ship and a virtual dressing room for trying on clothes before buying.

‘This technology will feature on all future newbuilds and elements will be retrofitted on existing ships starting with MSC Splendida next November before it moves to China,’ Onorato added.

Also spotted exploring onboard from Stateside: Roberto Fusaro, president and Adam Snitzer, svp guest services and revenue management, MSC Cruises (USA), who both summed up: ‘this is truly a game changer for the company.’



Posted 05 June 2017

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Mary Bond

Publisher/Editor in Chief Seatrade Cruise News & Seatrade Cruise Review