The MSC Meraviglia has hit the water. The largest new cruise ship for 2017, whose name means "wonder," sailed its maiden voyage earlier this month from Le Havre, France, to Genoa, Italy. Italian film legend and ship godmother Sophia Lauren christened the vessel.
It's the largest ship made by a European cruise line, Swiss-based MSC Cruises, and it can hold up to 5,714 passengers. The ship has 19 decks and 22 room categories, including new connecting cabins for families and interior studio cabins with a single bed for solo travelers.
Walk along the ship's Galleria, and you'll stroll beneath an enormous LED dome that acts as "an atmospheric digital sky." That means you'll see designs and a starry night or sunrise on the 5,200-square-foot screen as you pass below.
Original Cirque du Soleil shows will be performed at the custom-made Carousel Lounge twice each night, six nights a week. This is the first Cirque at sea to be offered aboard ships.
Shows include "Viaggio," which features a passionate artist and his muse, and "Sonor," an "auditory adventure" with dancers, acrobats and other characters. Shows last 40 minutes.
Passengers can book a show and drinks for $17 or a show and a three-course dinner for $39.
And there's plenty here for kids of all ages. An Aqua Park features water slides, splash pool and Champagne bowl. Anyone can test their mettle at the Himalayan Bridge ropes activity that takes you across the ship almost 200 feet above the water. There's an amusement park and bowling alley too.
There are lots of kid-themed areas, like the Doremi Lounge where you'll see Lego characters. The ship offers Baby Club for 1 to 3 year olds, Mini and Juniors Club for 3 to 11, and two teen clubs.
The ship has 12 restaurants, including four specialty eateries: Eataly, an American-style steakhouse called the Butcher's Cut and a Kaito Teppanyaki sushi bar and Asian restaurant. The ship's Marketplace Buffet is open 20 hours each day.
The Meraviglia also will debut MSC for Me, a digital interface. It acts as an on-board concierge that helps passengers book activities on the ship, find family members and friends and navigate their way from deck to deck.
The ship this summer will sail itineraries in the Mediterranean with stops in France, Italy, Spain and Malta. Prices vary by season, but MSC has a 2 for 1 sale on through Aug. 31.
With the sale, prices for interior cabins on eight-day cruises start at $1,069 for an Aug. 6 sailing and $499 for a Dec. 4 sailing.
The Meraviglia will gain a sister ship, the Bellissima, in spring 2019.
Info: MSC Cruises, (844) 284-9439