MSC Cruises will be hoping the Bellissima will live up to its name (which means “possessing intense beauty, delighting the senses”) when it launches on March 1. 

The 5,686-passenger ship will christened by cinema legend Sophia Loren on March 2 in Southampton, with TV presenter Holly Willoughby, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and three-time Grammy Award-winner Nile Rodgers and his band Chic, and Southampton’s own chart-topper Craig David, on hand to entertain guests at the naming ceremony. 

Bellissima, the fourth ship to join the cruise line’s fleet in two years, will stay in Southampton for three days before embarking on its inaugural season in the Western Mediterranean

Here’s everything we know so far about MSC Cruises’ brand new flagship:

Zoe, the cruise industry's answer Amazon's Alexa
You’ve heard of Alexa, but now you have Zoe…. the cruise industry’s first personal digital assistant Credit: MSC Cruises

How big?

Bellissima is 1,036ft (315.8m) long with a width of 141ft (43m) making it the line’s largest vessel. Little wonder then that it can accommodate close to 5,700 guests – a hefty increase on the 4,500 capacity available on MSC Meraviglia. There will be 20 different bars and 10 restaurants to passengers to choose from.

Who is Zoe?

Passengers on board MSC Bellissima will meet MSC’s newest crew member Zoe – think of her as the cruise industry’s answer to Amazon’s Alexa. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Zoe can speak seven languages and answer over 800 of the most commonly asked questions – with thousands of different variants of each query – providing information about on-board services, suggestions for activities, and even help in booking a specific service.

She’s easy to use too: all guests need to do is say “OK Zoe”, and she’s ready to help. 

MSC Bellissima F1 Simulator
Passengers will be able to take the F1 Simulator for a spin Credit: MSC Cruises

What shows can I see?

Two new exclusive Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows are set to debut on Bellissima, the second MSC Cruises ship to feature the spectacular circus.

Syma (Sail beyond Imagination) takes guests on the epic journey of a young sailor and features immersive video images, an original set design, bioluminescent lighting and acrobatic feats. Varelia (Love in full colour) puts a futuristic twist on a traditional medieval tale, tracing, as it does, the arduous course of an unconventional courtship between a princess with distinctive violet skin and a charming hero who is blind. Expect acrobatic feats, a laser show and a unique set design.

Both shows will be performed in the Carousel Lounge, a 400-capacity, technology-packed venue specifically designed for the needs of the Cirque du Soleil at Sea artists. 

You'll be able to grab a bite at HOLA! Tapas
You’ll be able to grab a bite at HOLA! Tapas Credit: MSC Cruises

What’s cooking?

Be sure to board with an appetite: culinary highlights include a new restaurant concept, HOLA! Tapas, on deck six, from twice Michelin-starred Chef Ramón Freixa, where the focus is on shared plates that celebrate “the Mediterranean way of life”. Mr Freixa explains: “I want guests to enjoy a true taste of Spain through appetizing tapas and a cheerful bar atmosphere.” 

French cuisine more your thing? There’s l’Atelier Bistrot, and for those with a sweet tooth, a chocolate bar from the award-winning pastry chef and chocolatier Jean-Philippe Maury.

MSC Bellissima Atmosphere Pool

MSC Bellissima’s Atmosphere Pool Credit: MSC Cruises

What’s this about the largest LED dome on the seas? 

The ship’s 96m Galleria Bellissima central promenade is impressive enough, with its array of spots for shopping, eating, relaxing and socialising. But what makes the area really stand out is a giant 480 square metre LED screen: it covers the entire ceiling of the inside promenade, transmitting an atmospheric digital sky that animates the whole area from above with inspiring vistas, sunrises, sunsets and starry night skies. 

What else can I do on board?

If you thought you might have a chance to read the book that’s been sitting on your bedside table since Christmas, think again. There’s plenty to keep passengers of all ages entertained and occupied on board Bellissima. 

The young (and young at heart) can get wet at a Grand Canyon-themed aquapark, which offers three water slides, a ‘Himalayan Bridge’ that crosses the deck nearly 200 feet above the water, and a splash pool. 

Nile Rodgers and his band Chic
Nile Rodgers and his band Chic will perform at MSC Bellissima’s naming ceremony Credit: Getty

Back on dry land, there’s a magic school for kids, a karaoke bar and comedy club, a TV studio that broadcasts live football games (for those worried about missing the big matches back home), a bowling alley and a Formula 1 simulator.

Aren’t cruise ships bad for the environment? 

With the latest technology, the impact is reduced. Bellissima has been fitted with a large number of environmental features and innovative tech to reduce her environmental footprint. We’re talking an exhaust gas cleaning system for cleaner emissions, an advanced wastewater treatment system, smart heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) to recover heat from machinery spaces. Plus, her LED lighting and smart devices will offer significant energy savings….


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Introducing the world’s newest cruise ship
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