In early November I had the chance to embark on the MSC Grandiosa, the newest cruise ship ofthe highly popular European cruise line MSC Cruises. This brand new cruise ship is currently the flagship of the entire MSC fleet. There’s absolutely no bigger or better cruise ship in the line-up. Moreover, the MSC Grandiosa is currently the sixth-largest cruise ship in the world and has a few amazing features that might blow some of the competition away. Read my review to find out if this magnificent cruise ship really lives up to her name!
At the end of October, the MSC Grandiosa left the shipyard of Saint-Nazaire and had to make its way to Hamburg. From Hamburg, she will eventually make her way back on an inaugural cruise to the Mediterranean Sea where she will stay all winter. But before that, of course the cruise ship had to make her way towards Hamburg, along Le Havre and Rotterdam. MSC invited me and a few others to sail along.
My first impression was not surprisingly that this ship is absolutely huge! I’ve sailed on quite a few other cruise lines and I was still very impressed. You especially notice the width of this ship when you’re at the pool deck. The MSC Grandiosa is sixteen meters longer than her sister the Meraviglia and there are 200 extra cabins. With her 2444 cabins, this ship has room for a maximum of 6297 passengers. Of course you have to take this with a grain of salt: that is only when every stateroom that has an extra bunk bed or sofa bed is occupied by 4 people, when in the majority of cases no more than 2 people will stay in one cabin. But still, this is a large number.
However, this Meraviglia Plus cruise ship is definitely spacious enough to accommodate all these guests. On a sea day, it might be a little bit crowded in some of the bars and on deck 15 and 16. But guests are spread over a large number of public spaces, including 3 main pools and a high range of bars. Apart from the main outdoor pool, there is also a pool at the aft of the ship, and an indoor pool with a retractable glass roof. And obviously you just have to pay the Aurea Spa on deck 7 a visit. The Aurea Spa on the Meraviglia and Meraviglia Plus class ships are some of the largest I’ve seen and has lost of options ranging from saunas, over hammams to an icey room! Quite a cool feature is that the showers have options to mix hot water with a cold breeze. Unfortunately the Spa area doesn’t have windows. If you would have been able to look out of a large window while in the sauna for example, that would have made it even better in my opinion.
On this pre-inaugural cruise the weather wasn’t all that great so I mainly stayed inside. Since the MSC Grandiosa will stay in the Mediterranean for the entire winter, chances are high guests will spend more time inside than outside. But no worries, this ship is build in a way that there’s enough to do when the weather is bad, like strolling along the two-floored indoor promenade under the longest LED dome at sea!
Bars and restaurants
The infinity bar on deck 5 had chilly winds coming from the ventilation system and is very close to where guests enter the ship after they spend some time on shore. I prefer the Edge cocktail bar which is exactly above. Another great choice is the Sky Lounge offering great views over the pool deck. And my absolute favorite is without a doubt the bar called ‘Masters of the Sea’, where the use of dark brown wood makes the interior a mix of an Irish pub and an Old World sailing vessel.
Main dining rooms are a thing of the past: MSC Grandiosa has several smaller dining rooms where you can have complimentary dinner. You still have your fixed table and fixed waiters, although I really wanted to try out the other complimentary restaurants. If you do want to try other dining options however, you have to book a table at one of the specialty restaurants. Kaito Teppanyaki is my recommendation, they serve Sushi as well. In Butcher’s Cut they serve you a selection of meat and red wines. This restaurant has a classic interior. Hola Tapas on the other hand, has a very light and bright interior which makes it a delight to have dinner at.
Entertainment on the MSC Grandiosa
On deck 16 is where all the fun happens. I tried everything, from the bowling alley to the F1 simulator and the VR Maze. The latter is really great, it was my first time doing this type of game and it feels so real. I even screamed a few times! Great addition to the entertainment on the MSC Grandiosa.
The ship hosts several shows, most of them are at Theatre La Comédie, but the Cirque du Soleil at Sea show it at the Carousel Lounge at the end of the ship. Just know you have to book this show in advance. Apart from the show, absolutely nothing else happens on the Carousel Lounge, which is a shame! Because of its large windows this is one of the only public spaces on the aft of the ship with a great view. I wish they could turn this into a bar or something during the day. What’s the use of these large windows when the show takes place at night and the venue isn’t tranformed into a bar during daytime?
I had a balcony cabin on deck 9. It has everything you need, and has a contemporary design. The cabin is in line with what the competition offers and I don’t have any remarks about the room or its bathroom. A cleverly designed stool and coffee table can be stored away under the desk to create a little bit of extra space. Each room has digital personal assistant called Zoe on its desk. It is MSC’s take on a digital assistant such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana of whatever it’s called these days 🙂 You can ask her questions like ‘Zoe, show me my expenses’ etc… But although MSC claims you can ask her thousands of questions and she understands several accents, I couldn’t get her to work. Luckily Zoe can still be used a a Bluetooth Speaker!
Other cabins I visited were the Aurea Suite and Duplex Suite. The Duplex Suite is definitely the better option of the two. It’s not just the size of 2 balcony cabins on top of each other: these Duplex suites are quite wide and have a jacuzzi on the deck. The large windows and modern design make this a great option. I would stay away from The Aurea Suite on the other hand. This suite consists of a bedroom and a failed attempt at creating a living room. With the couch placed against the wall, there’s too much empty space between the couch and the window. There wasn’t even a coffee table by the couch or a painting on the walls. Or maybe they just removed this during our tour? I don’t know. Moreover, it is decorated in red as opposed to the more beautiful green that we find in the Duplex Suite.
MSC Yacht Club
I would also definitely recommend the MSC Yacht Club. It’s a ship within a ship. This concept is not new and exists on several other ships already, but the Yacht Club on the Grandiosa is defintely up there at the top. The private deck reserved only for Yacht Club guests is at the very front of the ship, offering much more sunlight than darker pool areas like we find at the Haven from Norwegian Cruise Line ships. Small things like the fact that it has its own reception desk and the Yacht Club has fewer announcements blasting through the speakers make it a quieter experience overall.
I’m sure there is lots of more stuff to talk about, but this is what I have seen and experienced during my short 3-day itinerary on the MSC Grandiosa. Are you planning a cruise on the Grandiosa or one of its sister ships? Or do you prefer the competition?