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MSC Cruises previews Meraviglia, its first Vista class cruise ship

A water park and a three-story inside promenade deck are wow factors on the MSC Meraviglia, coming in 2017

When it sails in 2017, the MSC Meraviglia will feature "cluster cabins" for families traveling together, a digital sky along the ceiling of an inside promenade deck, and a linked-up amusement and outdoor water park.

MSC Cruises unveiled plans Monday for the first of its new generation of Vista megaships during a steel-cutting ceremony -- the first step in the shipbuilding process -- at STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France.

The ship will have bigger luxury areas with duplex suites, a solarium and private lounge in the self-contained MSC Yacht Club area in the front of the ship.

A large theater and a three-story inside promenade deck are among other features of the ship that will hold 4,500 guests (presuming two people per cabin), a cruise line statement says.

The ship also will make use of what's called "near field communication." Passengers will be able to open their cabins or locate (GPS-wise) their kids with a cruise card, high-tech wearable or smartphone.

The Meraviglia will be joined by a sister Vista class ship in 2019. The company is spending $5.4 billion to double its ship capacity by 2022, which includes construction of up to seven new ships.

The Meraviglia will have three home ports in its debut year: Genoa, Italy; Marseille, France; and Barcelona, Spain. The ship will spend its first summer sailing in the western Mediterranean starting in May 2017.

Reservations for the Meraviglia's 2017 sailing will open this June.

Info: MSC Cruises, (877) 665-4655 or contact a travel agent

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