While MSC Cruises predominantly caters to a European market, the line has made great strides in recent years to appeal to an American clientele as well. Come March 2013, MSC’s latest and greatest -- MSC Preziosa -- enters service in the Mediterranean.
Unique to Preziosa is a partnership with Eataly -- the Slow Food-embracing restaurant chain founded by Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti focused on culinary quality and ethically sourced ingredients. Onboard, Eataly Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Meanwhile, the 24-seat exclusive Ristorante Italia features a different set menu each night.
Preziosa’s upper decks are home to the Doremi Castle Aqua Park, Vertigo and Top 18 Exclusive Solarium. The shipboard waterpark includes a soak zone plus waterslides for children, while the high-speed Vertigo -- the longest single-rider body waterslide ever perched on a cruise ship -- rouses taller thrill-seekers. Adults can just as easily relax at their exclusive solarium, enjoying an onsite spa treatment under a water mister.
The Preziosa also boasts the MSC Yacht Club -- the line’s ultra-luxe ship-within-a-ship concept where certain spaces and features are made available exclusively to passengers booked in Yacht Club suites. Perks include access to a private observation lounge, pool deck and restaurant, as well as dedicated butler and concierge services.
Sailing year-round from New York City beginning in May 2013, the Norwegian Breakaway is bursting with enticing attractions. For starters, the ship’s hull art is designed by famed pop-artist Peter Max, and the promenade deck, known as The Waterfront, features al fresco dining and lounging experiences. Accommodations include the line’s signature studio staterooms for solo passengers and The Haven -- Norwegian’s take on an exclusive ship-within-a-ship experience.
Dubbed “New York’s Ship” by Norwegian Cruise Line, Breakaway brings the Big Apple onboard with The Rockettes as the ship’s collective godmother. Additional entertainment includes the Broadway shows Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor.
Above decks travelers will find a massive aqua park and sports complex encompassing 5 waterslides and a Nickelodeon-themed kiddie pool; plus the largest ropes course at sea, as well as a mini-golf course, basketball court, bungee trampoline, climbing cage and rock wall. What’s more, Breakaway’s spa features the first onboard Salt Room to replicate the natural wellness properties of Eastern European salt caves. Off the stern, the Spice H2O fireworks display -- set to musical hits of the 1980s -- lights up the night sky.
In the culinary realm the Breakaway showcases tastes of the city like Ocean Blue by Geoffrey Zakarian, Carlo’s Bake Shop, Sabrett hot dog carts and Brooklyn Lager beer. A genuine ice bar pours NYC-inspired cocktails and displays ice sculptures of the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and the Chrysler Building. Breakaway also has restaurants that serve up Italian, French, Asian, Brazilian and Irish cuisine.
Royal Princess sets sail from its Italian shipyard in June 2013, reintroducing one of Princess Cruises’ historic ship names. Royal is Princess’s largest vessel to date, catering to 3,600 passengers: At the ship’s heart is a newly expanded piazza-style atrium and the hub of shipboard dining and shopping.
Culinary highlights include the new Chef’s Table Lumiere. This private dining experience is set at a glass table that is enshrouded by a “curtain of light,” as described by the line. Princess favorites like Sabatini's Italian restaurant come along for the ride, as do new venues like the Ocean Terrace seafood bar, Gelato ice cream bar and The Pastry Shop at Horizon Court -- a new cafe experience just off from the enlarged buffet.
In addition to production shows and an outdoor cinema for entertainment are the new Club 6 nightclub and Princess Live! -- the first television studio at sea for live audiences and broadcasting shows. One of Royal’s decks is home to a new water and light show; vacationers will find it in a central “island” between 2 freshwater pools.
Adults-only relaxation is afforded at the Retreat Pool and The Sanctuary with private cabanas. The new Enclave at Lotus Spa comes with features like warm stone beds and a hydro pool. Kids and teens get their own hideaways with an indoor play structure, skeeball, DJ booth and outdoor areas specific to each age group.
Top Deck Features
Taking cues from Willy Wonka and his glass elevator is SeaWalk -- Royal’s glass-enclosed and floored walkway swung out 28 feet over the side of the ship and 128 feet above sea level. Another interesting top deck feature is the similarly outfitted SeaView Bar, on the opposite side of the vessel, suspending patrons directly over the ocean below.