On 23 March 2012 I was fortunate enough to have a sneak preview last Friday of the new MSC ship, MSC Preziosa, the 12th in the fleet and one of the cruiseline's Fantasia class ships. The translation of Preziosa in Italian is precious, as in precious gems. And every deck is named after a gem or crystal.
The formal unveiling and christening took place in the port of Genoa this weekend with the ribbon being cut by screen goddess and Italian legend, Sophia Loren. When the MSC Opera and MSC Splendida ships manoevered into close formation in homage to their new sister, the rain could do little to dampen the spirits of the assembled company. The culminating piéce de resistance of a spectacular fireworks display topped off a long, but interesting ceremony.
This is a large ship. A glizy gleaming white vessel with a 3,502 passenger capacity (including 1,388 crew); the 18 deck ship boasts 1,751 cabins and offers twenty bars, 5 restaurants, a 4d cinema, 3 swimming pools, theatre, library, internet cafe, ten pin bowling, casino, discotheque, and an Aurea Wellness Spa. Then on Deck 16 (Acquamarina) there is Vertigo, at 120m, the longest water slide at sea.
On first entering the reception and atrium area, I was impressed with the subtle yet vibrant teal decor with flashes of silver accent. There were cream coloured 'sails' that unfurled alongside the atrium's elevators, floating down to Deck 5 (Corallo) below. Here was the Preziosa bar, spacious seating area and a lovely fountain that had water trickling out of a tall silver shell. What I didn't notice initially was the SWAROVSKI crysal inlaid staircase ascending from Deck 5 to Deck 7 (Diamante). Amazing!
Covering Deck 6 (Rubino) and Deck 7 are a whole variety of bars, cafes and restaurants. La Laconda Wine Bar, Phoenician Plaza, the Green Sax, Safari Lounge, Sports and Bowling Diner, Ristorante Italia and Eataly and the main restaurants: Golden Lobster, Galaxy and l' Arabesque.
The buffet on Deck 14 (Smeraldo) has a very good selection of cold food including proscuitto, Italian cheeses and salads as well as pastas and pizzas. There are also cappuccinos and espressos to order from the excellent baristas. Eataly and Ristoriante Italia are the new slow food movement restaurants being launched by MSC on this ship having been created by Turin based chef, Oscar Farinetti.
But it was the ship within a ship that really caught my eye. With an exclusive 69 suites on Deck 15 (Cristallo) in a private section of the ship, the MSC Yacht Club is special. Each suite has butler service, there is private pool and two whirlpools on Deck 18, the Top Sail Lounge has seating for 141 and there is a private restaurant as well. The bling decor really left me overawed. A gold SWAROVSKI crystal staircase (!), the golden accessories of the Top Sail Lounge as well as the private 100 cover La Palmeraie restaurant. It is certainly worth the extra cost for luxury on this scale.
And the christening event put on for the MSC Preziosa was quite momentous. There was a synopsis of the tremendous 'Wonderland' cruise show that included all the acrobats, singers and dancer which I had seen the night before. The Genoa Russian Ballet School made an appearance as did a popular singer named, Gino Paoli, who was clear hit with the audience.
I think it was composer Ennio Merconni conducting an excellent 55 piece orchestra that set the right tone and was the highlight of the proceedings. Playing top choices from his well know film scores - 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' and 'Paradiso Cinema'.
The surprise was when the MSC Opera and MSC Spendida started using their horns to communicate with MSC Preziosa, perhaps harking back to the beginnings of the 300 year old company, when this would have been an integral form of communication. The proceedings culminated with the champagne smashing on the hull and then the explosion of fireworks over the harbour. A truly momentous ending.