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MSC Bellissima

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MSC Bellissima is a big, bold, boisterous ship with a lot going on morning, noon and night. And it's all a lot of fun. It's also very much a family ship, with an outstanding kids club and programing, superb entertainment facilities and a large number of cabins designed for family groups.

The ship carries just about 4,500 passengers at double occupancy, making it one of the largest in the world, both in terms of passenger numbers and size. It caters to everyone with a large number of drinking, dining and entertainment options, including the second Cirque du Soleil at Sea (MSC Meraviglia claims the first), four pools, a water park, a ropes course and a large central promenade lined with shops, bars and restaurants.

The ship also has a number of excellent speciality restaurants, including Japanese, Spanish, French and a steakhouse.

In a first for the line, and indeed the industry, the ship boasts a personal assistant called Zoe powered by artificial intelligence in every cabin, which is programmed to answer a wide range of cruise-related questions. The line also has an excellent app MSC for Me, which lists your personal agenda and the ship's itinerary, as well as allows you to make bookings, chat on the app and locate your kids.

MSC Bellissima can seem overwhelming at first -- it's designed for fun and most of the passengers hail from Southern Europe, so they know how to party -- but it never felt too crowded to us, even on a sea day. The public spaces are well designed, the multiple dining and theatre times means there are rarely bottlenecks and there is a huge amount of open deck space.

However, this may not be your ideal ship if quiet time is important to you. There are a handful of spots for an evening cocktail, including the for-fee Top 19 Club and the gorgeous Sky Lounge, but little else. Unless, that is, you can afford to book a suite in the ultraluxurious, suites-only enclave called the Yacht Club, which boasts its own private bar, restaurant and sun deck. Here you will find an enclave of calm, exclusivity and outstanding, intuitive service.

Our advice? Let yourself get swept up in the exuberance, and you'll soon be partying till midnight and beyond with the best of them.

Daytime: Casual, with shorts and tees most common inside the ship and bathing suits and cover-ups de rigueur on the pool deck.

Evening: Mostly casual, except on formal nights (twice per seven-night cruise) when men are asked to wear a suit but who'll often wear tuxedos; women go all-out with elegant dresses and jewels. On formal nights, you can dine in the buffet without dressing up.

Not permitted: Swimwear is not permitted in the main dining room and the speciality restaurants.

Theatre

The London Theatre (Deck 6) is a 975-person, Broadway-style theatre at the front of the ship that hosts six different shows a week, three times a night. Most of these are revue-style performances with lots of energetic dancing and music through the ages or themes, for example "Pink," a tribute to the finest women composers and singers in popular music; "Ritmo," where the music is Latin-inspired; or "Solid Rock," which showcases popular rock music. Note that even though all shows are free, you have to reserve; showtimes are at 7:45 p.m., 9:15 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.

During the day the theatre is used as a gathering place before shore excursions, for port guide presentations and the safety drill (worth noting that MSC Cruises, like a number of European lines, embarks and disembarks passengers from every port during the cruise, so there are safety briefings every day). Once per cruise, the in-house "Kelly & Kloe On Board" takes place here.

Carousel Lounge (Deck 7) is situated at the back of the ship (you have to go through the casino) and is the bespoke theatre created for and designed by Cirque du Soleil. The stage is round, with seats ranged around it in a semicircle with a raised bar area on one side. All along one wall is a long, flowing LED screen, on which projections are shown throughout the shows.

Cirque du Soleil launched its first productions at sea on sister ship Meraviglia, and Bellissima sees the debut of two more original 45-minute shows. As with most Cirque du Soleil shows, it doesn't really matter what the plotline is, it's more about gawping at the extraordinary acrobatics and mind-bending contortions.

"Valeria": "Valeria," like most Cirque du Soleil shows, has a loose plot tying together the incredible circus skills on display here. There is a tightrope artist who manages to balance on both a unicycle and a ladder and juggle at the same time, someone who juggles a giant cube and a woman dressed as a lizard who spends most of her time walking upside down on all fours. And if you get here early enough, you may also have time to interact with the "Donnie Darko"-esque rabbit and a giant rooster.

"Syma": A woman gets caught up in a storm, her boat sinks and she uses the mast as a prop on which to swing, flip and fly. But the performance that drew the most "oohs" and "aahs" came from someone dressed as a monk who uses a small pole that looks as if it is floating in front of him (it's on just-visible strings). He then proceeds to whip the pole around his body, toward the audience, up in the air and while performing a back flip. There is also a man who does amazing things with a skipping rope and a woman who juggles with her feet. Again, completely nonsensical, but a wonderful spectacle.

Performances start at 6:30 p.m. and again at 9:30 p.m. if you're having dinner before the show, or 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. if you're just doing cocktails and show. Shows run 45 minutes and alternate six nights a week.

Daily Fun

Most of the daytime activities take place around the main pool deck. Here you will find early morning stretch classes, dance lessons, quizzes and pool party games. In the adjacent Grand Canyon (solarium), you can take part in a Ping-Pong tournament and one deck up (at the back), in the Sportplex, you'll find basketball and football tournaments.

You can take a fun Behind the Scenes Tour, which not only takes in the galleys but also the theatre, storage areas and laundry room (59.99 euros per adult and 29.99 euros per child; ask at the shore excursions desk).

MSC Bellissima has a virtual reality arcade on Deck 16, which features a number of different experiences including a 4D cinema, a VR maze and two F1 simulators. There are also two bowling lanes. All these carry a charge. You can opt to pay as you play or get a Fun Pass card, which works out cheaper. There is also a video games room next door.

At Night

Bellissima is a lively ship and there is always some music or dancing going on somewhere. You'll find music in a number of spots around the ship, including the Atrium on Deck 5, the Bellissima Lounge and the TV Studio and Bar on Deck 6, and in the Sky Lounge on Deck 18.

After dinner and the main shows, karaoke kicks off in the TV Studio and dance lessons back in the Bellissima Lounge. The late-night parties take place either on the Pool Deck or in the Galleria Bellissima and can range from a White Party or 70s-themed party to a Latin Caribbean dance party.

One of Bellissima's stand-out features is the 80-meter-long LED ceiling (The Dome), which crowns the main promenade, Galleria Bellissima. Think Bellagio meets IMAX and you'll be part way there. The ceiling changes throughout the day and the Daily Program indicates when there is a "show" on, which lasts about 10 minutes and is impressive to watch.

You'll find the Imperial Casino toward the back of the ship on Deck 7. It's split in half by a wide walkway that eventually leads to the Carousel Lounge. There is a circular bar in the centre and gaming tables and slots on both sides. Promotions take place every day; check your Daily Program for details.

MSC Bellissima Bars and Lounges

Bars are buzzing at night on Bellissima, with the action centred along the Galleria and the Atrium; for something more sedate, head upstairs to the Sky Lounge.

Highlights include:

Edge (Deck 6): This bar, which leads onto the main promenade, is split by a stairwell, with seating on both sides, but the actual bar on just one side. There is table service and the coffee is some of the best on the ship.

Champagne Bar (Deck 6): Wrapped around the Atrium, with its Swarovski crystal staircases, this is the place to dress up, come for a pre- or post-dinner Champagne and do some people-watching or have your picture taken. It's very blingy.

Bellissima Bar (Deck 6): This is the main bar on the promenade where there is always something going on, whether that's dance classes or the start of the nightly parades. Bellissima Bar serves cocktails and has a dance floor.

TV Studio and Bar (Deck 7): This multi-purpose space houses a TV studio that broadcasts live across the ship. It also doubles as a comedy club, and karaoke and live music venue.

Masters of the Sea (Deck 7): This English-style pub serves a wide selection of draft, craft and bottled beers, including Guinness and Newcastle Brown Ale. And if you can't decide, you can always order a yard of beer, to sample a few. There are also vodka and whiskey tasting sessions and it also offers small snacks.

Sports Bar (Deck 16): This small bar services the games area with standard drinks and free hot dogs if you buy a drink.

Sky Lounge (Deck 18): This is really the only bar onboard where you can find a quiet spot to read during the day or for an after-dinner drink. It's in a beautiful spot at the top of the ship overlooking the main pool deck. There is live music in the evening, but it's mainly classical or soft jazz. There is an indoor smoking room with a humidor adjacent.

Attic Club (Deck 18): This is a small club overlooking the basketball court, which plays dance music till very late.

Horizon Bar (Deck 18): This outdoor bar at the back of the ship is a nice spot to sit and watch the sunset. It serves the Horizon Pool area.

Arizona Bar (Deck 19): This is a small bar situated beside the water slides on the top deck. It serves a small selection of drinks including sodas, water, slushies and milkshakes.

MSC Bellissima Outside Recreation

Pools

Bellissima has four pools, three of which are open to all (the fourth is for Yacht Club passengers only).

Main Pool (Deck 15): A large, noisy, smoky (on the starboard side) area that gets extremely crowded and raucous on most days, with loud music and poolside games and dancing going on every day, all day. There are two pools connected by a shallow area in the centre. Double loungers are built into the side of the pools, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are plenty more loungers set back from here.

Grand Canyon Pool (Deck 15): Just beyond the main pool area, you'll find the Grand Canyon Pool, which consists of a pool with two large hot tubs on both sides. There is a retractable roof, a bar and plenty of loungers. On the upper level are two more hot tubs, table tennis, foosball and plenty of chairs and tables.

Horizon Pool (Deck 16): A small square-shaped pool right at the back of the ship with lovely views. It is surrounded by a tiered amphitheatre with loungers on the pool deck area, and tables and chairs on the tiers and beside the bar. (Note: There is a smoking area on the right.) At night this area transforms into more of a party spot.

Yacht Club (Deck 19): Yacht Club cruisers have exclusive use of a small saltwater pool and hot tub on Deck 19. There are plenty of loungers, highly attentive service and even on a sea day, this tranquil area high atop the ship is never full. Breakfast and a buffet lunch are served up here, and drinks are available all day.

Recreation

At the back of the ship, high up on Deck 19, you'll find the Arizona Aquapark, which includes three water slides, a kids' splash area and the 82-meter long Himalayan Bridge, a ropes course that takes you around the side of the ship and includes two tracks side by side, one trickier than the other -- and neither for the fainthearted. The views are breathtaking.

The splash area includes a shallow pool, tiny slides, spray guns and water dunkers. The water slides twist and turn above here. You need to be 1 meter and 20 centimetres, or 4 feet, to go on these, and you have to sign a waiver at the start of the cruise.

Directly below is the Sportplex, which is a multiuse facility, mainly for basketball and football, and for kids' organized games during the day. After dark, it sometimes evolves into a disco, if the Attic Club (directly above) gets too crowded.

Sun Decks

You'll find plenty of loungers on Deck 16, on each side above the main pool deck and stretching to the back of the ship. There are also plenty of spots right at the back, surrounding the Horizon Pool, and we did not find chair hogging to be an issue. You'll find two hot tubs up here, jutting out slightly from the ship.

There is a second, exclusive sun deck on Deck 19, available only to Aurea passengers, right at the top of the ship. Towel service is available, but you will have to get your own drinks.

MSC Bellissima Services

All the shops are on Deck 6, either at the start of the main Atrium or along the Galleria Bellissima. Here you will find a logo shop, essentials, high-end watches, handbags and other duty-free goods. There are daily promotions which you can read about in your Daily Program.

The Photo Studio is on Deck 6, while the guest services and shore excursions desks are on Deck 5, in the main Atrium.

The Wi-Fi onboard is strong but expensive at 39 euros a day. You are better off getting a full cruise package, which works out at 139 euros and you can connect up to four devices.

Spa

The joint-biggest spa of any MSC ship, The Aurea Spa on Deck 7 has 20 treatment rooms and an amazing Thermal Suite.

There are 18 Balinese therapists offering treatments, including facials and traditional Balinese massage techniques, as well as Thai massage, candle massage and the signature Aure del Mare treatment with shells (110 euros).

Treatments are not cheap -- a 30-minute Hot Stone massage costs 65 euros, rising to 110 euros for a 45-minute Bali Holistic massage. Note there is also a 15 percent service charge added. Other treatments include anti-cellulite and water treatments in a futuristic-looking pod.

However, there are lots of offers, especially on port days, so look out for those in your Daily Program.

The Thermal Suite is one of the best at sea, with 10 rooms to experience -- two steam rooms (one dark, one light), two saunas (one Finnish, one Mediterranean), a salt room, two relaxation rooms, two aromatherapy rooms, a snow grotto, as well as a walk-through shower and two thalassotherapy pools.

You could easily spend a day in here trying it all out, and prices are reasonable: A daily pass is 40 euros per day (60 euros per couple), weekly is 120 euros (165 euros per couple).

The Jean Louis David Salon is at the spa entrance. It offers hair treatments and a wide range of beauty therapies, including manis, pedis, waxing and men's grooming. A shampoo and style starts at 27 euros.

Open: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Fitness

For a ship this size, we were slightly underwhelmed with the fitness centre on Deck 16. Yes, the equipment is brand-new and top of the range and powered by Technogym, but it's just not that big, relatively. There is a separate spinning room and an area for circuit training, but none for Pilates or yoga -- if you want to do your exercises, you have to share the space with the weightlifters or on the open deck.

The setting is prime, directly overlooking the main pool deck and with windows all round in a semicircle. It's well equipped with 14 treadmills, six bikes (three pro and three reclining), cardio equipment, Kinesis and a weights training area.

Pilates, yoga and group bike training are 10 euros per person, per hour.

If you plan on using the gym often, consider one of the packages on offer: five group lessons for 49 euros or one class plus one hour in the Thermal Area for 21 euros. There is also a prepaid package including three personal training sessions for 172 euros.

No child under 12 is allowed; over-12s must be accompanied by an adult. Open: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

There is a jogging track which encircles the back of the ship on Deck 16, with clearly delineated tracks for walkers and joggers (we also liked that there are no loungers in this area). One lap equals 200 yards (0.33 kilometres).

The quality of dining onboard MSC's ships has been steadily improving since the launch of Meraviglia in 2017, and sister Bellissima is no exception. While there are just five specialty restaurants onboard, what Bellissima might lack in quantity, it makes up for in quality, offering high food and service standards across the board. It also helps that all the bread, pasta, pastries and mozzarella are freshly made daily.

Food items are marked for allergies, and all waiters we encountered, without exception, asked unprompted at the start of every meal about any food intolerances. There is a kids' club menu available in all the main dining rooms.

Following the current trend of cruise ships not having a single main dining room (MDR), Bellissima has four, which all serve exactly the same meals, differing only in location and decor.

For breakfast and lunch, you are limited to the buffet or one of the four MDRs (Posidonia), unless you are a Yacht Club passenger and can eat in the Yacht Club Dining Room.

You need reservations for all of the speciality restaurants.

Free Dining

Posidonia (Deck 5), The Lighthouse (Deck 6), Il Cilegio (Deck 6) and Le Cerisier (Deck 6)
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Posidonia is at the back of the ship but does not have aft views. Instead, it has porthole windows along the sides. The Lighthouse, which has a large picture window at the back for wake views, is the restaurant designated for passengers who have booked the Aurea Experience. There are three seatings (6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.), and you can choose whichever you want, but if you want to dine outside of these times, you can also call to reserve a table at whatever time you want. The remaining two restaurants are for people with set-time dining.

Posidonia is the only one of the four MDRs where you can get breakfast (served from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.) and lunch (noon to 1:30 p.m.).

For breakfast, you can opt for the "MSC Express" which consists of scrambled or fried eggs, sausages, bacon and hash browns. Or you have the usual choice of breakfast items -- eggs, omelettes, bacon and sausages, yoghurts and cereals -- as well as more European-style items, such as cold cuts, cheeses and even grilled kippers, herrings and smoked salmon.

At lunch expect three starter choices, including a salad, soup and fish dish. Mains will include a fish and a meat dish, as well as simpler options such as a burger or a club sandwich. There will always be a vegetarian dish, usually pasta, but sometimes noodles. There is a wide selection of desserts, including ice cream, cheeses and fruit.

At all four main dining rooms, dinner is a three- or four-course affair, depending on if you opt for cheese and dessert. All starters and mains include a soup and a vegetarian option. Mains err on the heavy side with duck, beef, veal and lamb all on offer, though you will always find a freshly made pasta dish and a fish dish. Always-available dishes are steamed fish fillet and grilled chicken breast. There is also a suggested Healthy Option menu, complete with calories, fat, carbs and protein.

Twice a cruise there is a gala dinner, prepared by one of the line's celebrity chefs -- Carlo Cracco or Harald Wolfhart. Overall, the food is of a high quality -- the Gala Night herb-crusted tenderloin was exceptional -- with service to match.

The wine list is extensive, with an emphasis on Italian wines, and at a reasonable price. If you have opted for a beverage package, you are not limited to a handful of wines, unlike on many cruise ships. We found the service exemplary, friendly, knowledgeable and attentive.

Marketplace Buffet (Deck 15)
Meals: B, L, D

The vast buffet, which takes up most of the back of Deck 15, is well designed and easy to navigate. You can enter via the main entrance, or at various side entrances or from the main pool deck, thus avoiding bottlenecks. There are hand-washing stations at every entrance, and a diligent crew member squirting you at the main entrance. The centrepiece is the glass-fronted mozzarella-making area, where you can watch the cheese being made fresh.

Food is available at each side of the mozzarella-making area and all the way to the back of the buffet on twin lines, punctuated by tea, coffee and water stations. At breakfast, you'll find omelette stations as well as an English Breakfast Corner serving British staples, such as English bacon and baked beans (though sadly no Marmite), and also a small Chinese section serving congee, rice and noodles.

There is plenty of seating, including sit-up tables at the main entrance. (Our tip: Head toward the back where it is less crowded).

Room Service (24 hours a day): A cold breakfast, including hot beverages, is served free. Most other menu items are free as well, except for desserts and pizza, which costs 5 to 9 euros a pie. There is a delivery charge for non-breakfast items.

Fee Dining

Pricing was accurate at time of review but may have changed since.

Jean-Philippe Chocolate & Cafe (Deck 6); a la carte speciality coffees and hot chocolate from 2.40 euros
Meals: All-day snacks

French master chocolatier Jean-Philippe Maury gets some prime real estate on the Galleria Bellissima -- the main promenade -- with this showcase to his extraordinary talents. The cafe features an open kitchen where you can watch the creations being made, as well as a cafe and a chocolate shop.

Take some time to admire some of his creations on display in a glass cabinet just as you enter -- you really will marvel at his skill. You can't buy these, but you can buy a model of the ship in milk, dark or white chocolate for 18 euros. The hot chocolate's not too bad, either.

Jean-Philippe Crepes & Gelato (Deck 6); a la carte, 2.90 euros and up
Meals: Snacks

More of an ice cream parlour than a restaurant, its located in a prime spot along the main promenade and serves crepes, gelato, smoothies and various ice cream sundaes from 5.50 euros.

HOLA! Tapas (Deck 6); 26 euros or a la carte
Meals: D

Michelin-starred chef Ramon Freixa's second outing on an MSC ship (the first is Ocean Cay on MSC Seaview) is a hit-and-miss affair. Some of the absolute basics -- tortilla, for example -- are botched, with Freixa's weird almondy signature flakes coating one side, and pink mayo the other, rendering them largely inedible. The gambas al ajillo (prawns in garlic) come in a bao bun, which would outrage purists of this sublime dish and the less said about the pulpo a la Gallega (octopus Galician style), the better. There are some hits, such as the solomillo (steak), an unadorned plate of jamon and perfectly toasted bread with a side of tomato spreading paste, which we devoured, and a selection of burgers, which we weren't quite sure what were doing on the menu, but were delicious -- as were the fries. The desserts -- popping candy, chocolate and churros -- are fun.

L'Atelier Bistrot (Deck 6); 23 euros or a la carte, 6 to 22 euros
Meals: D

This French-style bistro is on the main promenade, Galleria Bellissima, and should, in theory, attract a lot of passing traffic; however, the concept of speciality dining is still relatively new for MSC so it may take some time for this to bed in. Dishes include French classics, such as pate, vichyssoise and, of course, escargots to start; and moules mariniere, bouef bourginon and steak frites for mains. The Dining Experience is reasonably priced, but it limits you to just four starters and four mains, so you may wish to go a la carte. However, note that with mains averaging more than 20 euros, if you're adding cheese and a dessert (not to mention wine), you are heading well north of 50 euros per person.

Kaito Teppanyaki (Deck 7); 24 euros to 59 euros; 12 euros for kids
Meals: D

Definitely the most fun of all the restaurants onboard in that this is just as much a show as a meal. For anyone familiar with a traditional hibachi experience, you know the drill: knife juggling, egg throwing, cheesy jokes -- and a lot of laughs. But of course, it's not just about the performance -- the food is outstanding -- beautifully seasoned, prepared and cooked. The set menu prices reflect the dishes served, with certain meats and seafood costing more. All the menus start with miso soup, sushi and sashimi, seasonal greens and include a lot of egg fried rice.

Kaito Sushi (Deck 7); 28 euros or a la carte
Meals: L, D

Situated just outside the Teppanyaki restaurant, so it's not so much a restaurant but a collection of tables on the landing overlooking the main promenade, as well as a sit-up sushi bar. Overseen by Japanese sushi master Chef Saimiya, the food here is outstanding. You could go for the Dining Experience, but our suggestion is to have a sashimi or nigiri dish each (from 3 euros), followed by one of the best noodle soups we have ever had on a ship -- Tori Soba, chicken, leeks and wakame (5 euros) -- with maybe a matcha tea ice cream (3 euros). Overall, superb value and attentive service.

Butcher's Cut (Deck 7); 39 euros or a la carte
Meals: D

This American-style steakhouse, all leather chairs and black and white prints on the walls, is situated on the upper floor of the Galleria, with a main restaurant and open kitchen, as well as tables outside overlooking the promenade. The steaks are superb: thick, juicy and tender. If steak is not your thing, chicken, scallops, halibut and salmon are also available. If you have any space left, there is a delicious selection of desserts, including New York cheesecake and a signature lava cake (made in the chocolate shop just below).

Carousel Lounge (Deck 7); 35 euros
Meals: D

This is the venue for the Cirque du Soleil shows. If you're going for the dinner, too (6 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.), the three-course set meal starts with a salad or a light fish dish and then a choice of three entrees -- fish, meat and vegetarian options. Dessert might be cheesecake or a mousse.

Cabin designs look and feel modern and stylish in a colour palette of muted greys, steels and dark browns, creating an elegant, understated feel. Design-wise there are some nice touches with bedside lights activated by touch, bedside USB sockets, Do Not Disturb and Make Up My Room switches and lots of extra spots for storage, such as the bedside tables and magazine racks below the TV.

All cabins come with two twin beds, which can be made into a double, except for the Interior Studios and the ocean views on Deck 8. All beds are high enough to store a large suitcase underneath. Standard cabins have a double closet with drawers, shelving and a safe on one side (MSC does not store life jackets in cupboards, which means extra closet space), and a desk with two European two-pin sockets, two US sockets and a USB socket. There are more USB sockets in the fixed bedside lighting fixtures. Other amenities include a hairdryer, mini-fridge, footstool and small table, a phone and an interactive TV with numerous channels in multiple languages. The TV also allows you to check your bill, book shows and restaurants and buy movies (7 euros).

Cabins also feature Zoe, MSC's artificial intelligence-based "personal cruise assistant." In theory, Zoe should be able to answer multiple cruise-related questions in different languages (such as when does the show start?), but we found it usually didn't work.

All standard cabins have a shower room with a shower stand with glass doors, a footrest for leg shaving and a clothes wire for drying. You'll find generic shampoo and gel in fixed dispensers in the shower. There is a single basin with a fixed soap dispenser and a small cupboard with shelves. There is a rubbish bin under the sink.

There are 175 interconnected cabins, as well as specially designed Family cabins (see below).

MSC Bellissima has the joint-biggest Yacht Club -- a keycard access-only suite complex -- in the fleet, along with MSC Meraviglia. The complex has 94 cabins, all designated suites, though some are interiors.

MSC differs from all other cruise lines in the way it sells its cabins, preferring to offer "Experience" types rather than sell by cabin size or type, and it's worth noting that some cabins are only available with specific experiences. For example, you can only stay in an Interior room if you have opted for the Bella, Fantastica or Yacht Club experience and you can only stay in a suite if you have opted for the Fantastica or Aurea experience or Yacht Club perk. Each one of these experiences comes with a different range of perks and benefits.

The entry-level Bella Experience represents a value-for-money cruise that includes all meals, entertainment, activities and your preferred choice of dinner seating (subject to availability). The Fantastica Experience layers on extra perks, such as 24-hour room service, priority choice of dinner seating and cabins on the upper decks. The Aurea Experience includes even more extras, including an all-inclusive beverage package, a spa package that includes a welcome cocktail, one massage of your choice, wellness consultation and free access to the Thermal Suite and the flexible My Choice dining (if they want it), priority boarding and cabins on the upper decks.

Cabin Categories

Studio: There are 12 Interior Studios, which are 129 square feet. They have a single bed. The bathrooms are the same as a standard cabin. Bookable with the Bella Experience only.

Interior: These are 172 square feet and there are 650. Bookable with Bella and Fantastica experiences only.

Oceanview: There are 136 of these and they range from 161 to 183 square feet. The layout is the same as Interiors, with the addition of an oblong window. Bookable on Bella and Fantastica experiences.

Balcony: These come in, on average, at 204 square feet (though the accessible versions are bigger) and make up the bulk of the cabin types -- 1,282 of them to be precise. The balcony size is 48 square feet in cabins on Decks 9 through 13; the Deck 8 balconies are 53 square feet. There is enough space for two chairs (not loungers) and a small table. They are bookable across all three experiences.

Family Cabins: There are three types of cabin categorized as Family Cabin, but just two are specially designed (the Family balcony room option is just two interconnected balcony cabins). All are bookable with the Fantastica Experience only. Family ocean views are all at the front of the ship, spread across three decks (9, 10 and 11) and are 290 square feet. They have bunk beds in a recessed space with a curtain for privacy, as well as a double bed and a single sofa bed, so they can sleep five. There is a large picture window. Bathrooms come with a tub. Family suites are all located at the back of Decks 9 through 14 and are the same size as an ocean-view room but come with a narrow balcony.

Accessible Cabins: There are 55 accessible cabins, all with wide doors, ramps and fully accessible bathrooms, across the interior and balcony categories. They are the only cabin category with a pull-down bed. The balcony accessible rooms are all at the "hump" of the ship, so have good-sized (113-square-feet) triangular balconies. There is one accessible Deluxe Suite in the Yacht Club.

Suite: MSC Bellissima has a number of different suite types, two of which are not part of, nor have access to, the Yacht Club (see below). These are:

Aurea (Corner) Suite: There are 10 of these 290-square-foot rooms, all on the front corners of the ship. They have two separate rooms -- a bedroom with a double bed and balcony access and a living room with a sofa bed. This also has balcony access. The balcony is huge, averaging 376 square feet, and varies by deck. It has a hot tub, a lounger, chairs and a table. The bathroom is the same as a standard bathroom, but is in the living room corridor. Bookable with the Fantastica and Aurea experiences.

Duplex Suite: There are eight of these, all located at the front of Decks 9 and 10, and 12 and 13, and come in at 559 square feet. They would suit a family or perhaps two couples sharing. They are accessed from the lower deck, but there is a door through the walk-in wardrobe space to the upper, effectively giving them two entrances. The lower floor consists of a living area, with a sofa bed that converts into a double bed; a shower room with toilet; a wardrobe and a dining area with a table that can seat four people. The dining space leads out onto a 240-square-foot balcony complete with hot tub. The upper area (which is really a mezzanine), consists of a double bed, a bathroom with tub and a wardrobe. Bookable only with the Aurea Experience.

The Yacht Club: The Yacht Club is MSC's exclusive suites-only complex, which as well as 94 cabins, also includes a private lounge, a dining room and sun deck with pool, hot tub and bar.

The Yacht Club is keycard-only access and takes up five decks (14 to 19; there is no Deck 17) at the front of the ship. Most of the top suites are here, with the exception of the eight Duplex Suites at the back of the ship and the Corner Suites.

All Yacht Club cabins, irrespective of category, come with dedicated priority check-in and check-out; 24-hour butler and concierge service; bathrobe, slippers and MSC Med range of bathroom products; unlimited soft and alcoholic beverages across the ship; free Thermal Suite access and a direct private lift to the MSC Aurea Spa; free room service delivery and a Nespresso coffee machine.

Interior Suite: There are 15 of these, which are 172 square feet -- hardly what we'd call a suite. The main difference between a regular inside and a Yacht Club inside is the addition of a small table and two chairs, as well all the YC perks.

Deluxe Suite: There are 77 of these. Although not technically a suite (i.e., two separate rooms), these are a decent size at 301 square feet and do have two areas -- a living area with sofa, coffee table, two chairs and a fixed desk; and a double bed in the bedroom area. There is also a fixed desk, which runs the length of the room and has cupboard space and the coffee machine on top, as well as two closets. The bathroom, though without a tub, is a decent size with marble fitting and a large shower.

Royal Suite: There are two Royal Suites, both on Deck 15, which are huge -- 699 square feet with a 430-square-foot balcony. The layout is as follows: bedroom with its own small private balcony, ensuite bathroom with tub and separate shower stall and living room with L-shaped sofa, a coffee table and two armchairs. Double sliding doors lead out to the balcony, which has its own dining table at one end and a hot tub at the other.

Deck 5
Deck 6
Deck 7
Deck 8
Deck 9
Deck 10
Deck 11
Deck 12
Deck 13
Deck 14
Deck 15
Deck 16
Deck 18
Deck 19
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