by Kaye Holland, The Telegraph, March 15, 2019
Bellissima, sister ship to Meraviglia, was christened by screen goddess Sophia Loren in Southampton earlier this month. Passengers can meet the world’s first “virtual cruise assistant”, Zoe, enjoy two new exclusive shows by Cirque du Soleil, and the longest interactive LED dome at sea. Bellissima is sailing in the Mediterranean this summer.
Style & Character 9/10
MSC Cruises bills itself as a “Swiss-based European company”, but the vibe on Bellissima is very much Italian thanks to its owners, the Aponte family. Expect sparkling glass staircases filled with Swarovski crystals and a two-storey Mediterranean-style promenade.
The most lustworthy cabins are in the Yacht Club, where luxurious Royal Suites boast a balcony with a private whirlpool bath. But most passengers will plump for a standard balcony stateroom, 70 per cent of which offer ocean views. Mine was tricky to access (an incredibly stiff door handle), but roomy and well equipped with a desk, spacious wardrobe and ample charger points.
Food & Drink 8/10
Board with an appetite: there are 20 bars and 10 restaurants. Culinary highlights include a new restaurant concept, HOLA!, featuring Mediterranean-inspired tapas, from twice Michelin-starred Chef Ramón Freixa. For the sweet-toothed there’s a chocolaterie from award-winning Jean-Philippe Maury where passengers can create customised chocolate bars. You can eat well for free in the main restaurants and Marketplace Buffet.
Service and facilities 9/10
A large spa, impressive gym with sea views and a casino are joined by a magic show for kids, a Grand Canyon-themed aquapark (think three water slides, a “Himalayan Bridge” that crosses the deck nearly 200ft above the water, and a splash pool). There’s also a full-size bowling alley, a Formula 1 simulator, a karaoke bar and comedy club, and a TV studio that broadcasts live football games (for those worried about missing the big matches back home).
Entertainment and excursions 9/10
The London theatre hosts solid, if unspectacular, Broadway-style shows and late-night comedy, but the jewel in Bellissima’s crown is the Carousel Lounge – a 400-capacity, state-of-the-art venue specifically designed for two exclusive Cirque du Soleil shows.
There are plenty of port adventures – book in advance for a 20 per cent discount.
Value for money 8/10
Wi-Fi costs from £43 per week, and a gratuity of £8.50 per adult per day is added to the final bill. Excursions cost from £44. A trio dining package which allows passengers to eat in three different speciality restaurants during their stay can be purchased for £73.