ASIA PACIFIC. MSC Cruises will showcase over 200 brands when it launches its latest Meraviglia-class ship, MSC Bellissima, in March 2019.
The flagship cruise liner, with a maximum capacity of 5,686 passengers, will be named in Southampton, UK, but will eventually ply Asian waters from early 2020.
Bellissima is the fourth MSC Cruises next-generation ship to come into service in just over 18 months.
MSC Cruises Head of Retail, Adrian Pittaway, told The Moodie Davitt Report: “MSC Bellissima will be home to 11 beautiful bespokely-designed boutiques with over 700sq m of retail space (and) our first-ever retail theatre in the Plaza Bellissima.”
The ship will also feature three luxury watches and jewellery boutiques, and a beauty offer that is +30% larger than on Bellissima’s sister ship MSC Meraviglia.
MSC Bellissima has a Mediterranean-style promenade with an 80-metre LED sky screen as its social hub. The shopping areas run either side of this promenade on deck six.
Pittaway added: “We have many first-for-MSC brand launches which we will announce at the start of February. Bespoke retail space has been designed to be ready when the ship travels to Asia in 2020, whereupon it will be the largest cruise ship operating in the Asia market.”
In its first season, Bellissima will be cruising the Western Mediterranean with a mix of nationalities onboard. Itineraries will include seven-night cruises to some of the region’s most popular ports, before moving to the UAE for Winter 2019/2020 – and then to Asia.
Digital assistance will help retail and F&B
The ship will offer what is claimed to be the world’s first digital cruise assistant, called Zoe. Available in seven languages, it is designed to answer the most commonly-asked questions from the comfort of guest cabins.
The voice-enabled artificial intelligence device has been developed in partnership with Harman International. It has interactive maps to guide passengers around the shops and restaurants, including online reservation services. It can also provide tailored agendas, for example, favourite movies or wine preferences.
On the food & beverage side, Michelin-starred chef, Ramon Freixa will open his second restaurant at sea with MSC Cruises called HOLA! The tapas bar is designed as a social dining experience where guests can share plates and enjoy the Mediterranean way of life.
Freixa explained: “I want guests to enjoy a true taste of Spain through appetising tapas and a cheerful bar atmosphere. This partnership with MSC Cruises is special to me as we have such strong mutual values and this new restaurant embodies our passion for sharing the joys of Mediterranean food.”
In addition to the new restaurant from Freixa, guests can choose from 12 international dining venues and 20 bars, including a new French speciality restaurant L’Atelier Bistrot. The ship will also feature acclaimed pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury’s Chocolaterie and Chocolate Bar, dedicated entirely to unique chocolate creations and desserts.
MSC Bellissima will be the second MSC Cruises ship to feature Cirque du Soleil at Sea, with two new shows designed exclusively for the company. The new show concepts will be revealed in December.
This long-standing partnership with Cirque du Soleil will also see a further four new shows created for sister ships MSC Grandiosa, launching November 2019, and MSC Virtuosa launching in 2020.