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MSC VIrgin tries out Bellissima.

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    MSC VIrgin tries out Bellissima.

    (This got a lot longer than wanted but helped me clarify my thoughts)

    Intro(some may want to skip the first bit)

    MSC has been on the list to try for some years but we never seemed to find the right trip, we are very flexible, I find it hard to commit too early and with MSC some of the decent options sell out.

    The mixed reviews for MSC give you a lot to think about and no matter how open minded you are you they do influence expectations.
    one thing that seems to be unanimous is get yourself into the YC if you can, as with most ships the premium cabins/product can at times be quite expensive but there are some decent prices when you look hard but they sell out quick and you can be left waiting for YC cabins to become available.
    regular cabins on MSC are often very decent competitive prices.

    The YC product has evolved and now comes with the top drinks package throughout the ship which makes it more attractive.
    The introduction of YC inside cabins offered a new more affordable option often the pricing is around the same as the top balcony with equivalent drinks package.

    The last couple of years have seen the introduction of 2 new class of ships Meraviglia and Seaside this first being inward looking and aimed for the colder climate and the later more outward looking for the warmer climate.
    All these look good options to try out MSC.

    I think by the middle of last year we were researched out and could book with some confidence we could pick something we would be happy with.

    We missed out on some Seaview trips in the Med during the summer and a Xmas trip(forgot which ship).

    Mid Dec I got the call from a friend looking at Bellissima inaugural from Southampton, this was ticking a lot of the boxes, new to us line, new ship, local(ish port) short flight home, good length 9 nights dates were free.

    prices came back for YC and were decent enough, a quick check for logistic costs(parking, coach, flight, hotel Southampton) and we were booked and paid in under 24hrs.
    One thing I have learnt is when the price is right(or wrong misprice) book quickly the deals don't always last if they are good.

    I reported the deal here

    For some reason this trip was not that popular so some very good packages and late bookings were available.
    Cruisedot had a late cruise only Balcony deal for £399.

    I did a bit of a blog during the trip so will try to summarise my thoughts and hope this helps others.

    before I start

    Some comments will make more sense if you have looked at some of the promo material and if you have deck plans available
    the MSC web site has all you need and there are other more compact version in pdf.

    lets start with the YC experience.

    We get embarkation priority on a lot of line and the YC priority is up there with the best of them
    There were butlers looking out for YC guests at the curb, once found you are escorted past everyone.
    At Southampton check in was in the terminal but I understand it is more normal to do this on the ship in the YC area.
    Experienced cruisers will understand how this can be a benefit a busy times and for the novice you are blissfully unaware of the chaos that can be embarkation.

    The YC is an oasis on the ship, for those into ship builds it is made up from 4 super blocks covering 5 decks(14-19).
    This self contained complex has nearly everything you could need(no spa space).
    The area is well laid out with a lounge, restaurant and open deck all overlooking the front of the ship above the bridge.
    As has been noted elsewhere by commanding this prime position regular guests have nowhere to get a forward view unless they book a forward facing cabin on the lower decks.

    Everything is very close to each other it is like having a massive cabin even though sharing with around 200pax.
    All the decor in the YC is quite subdued and neutral apart from the two smaller swarovski stairs between the lounge and dining room

    The lounge can be remarkably quiet most of the day as people go ashore or use the rest of the ship
    it opens at 6am and much of the day you have more staff than passengers.

    There is entertainment in the evening, the regulars(not the bands) from the other lounges take turns, you get a few more hanging out around dinner.

    On this trip the upper open deck stayed quiet as the weather was not accommodating even after Lisbon it was cool and windy at times.

    Shore ex and the future cruise/loyalty visit every evening to deal with your needs along with the concierge team butlers and staff all to serve around 200 guests as you would expect(and pay for) the service levels are high.
    With open seating for all three meals, snacks throughout the day and a grill on the sundeck there is plenty of food options and no time restrictions never tried booking a favourite table/waiter.

    For the sun worshippers the YC sun deck is mostly covered with glass wind deflectors so although spacious only a few beds have uninterrupted access to the sun.

    There are 3 basic grades of cabins
    YIN 15 simple inside cabins offering the enhanced experience of the YC without the bigger cabin
    YC2 78 Delux suite, these are not massive but spacious enough given location.
    YC3 2 royal suite proper suites on the corners of deck 15
    I did try to look but YC2/3 were occupied.

    MSC YC competes well with the other cruise lines offering the enhanced suite experience.
    The option of an inside cabin can make this experience much more affordable if you can cope with the small room which can be just for sleeping and showering when you have the spacious YC outside your door.

    But that is only part of the story this is a very big ship.

    Bellissima, or ugly duck

    Most modern large ship look like a block of flats from the outside but I don't care I am on the inside looking out.

    Well on this ship you are on the inside looking in.
    There are a few good spots for looking out like the buffet but the core of the ship is inward looking

    Although a big ship the focus is on the area between the two main elevator banks(forward&mid) and that make the ship feel quite compact(if you pick the right cabin)

    I really like what they have done with this 3 storey area inside, the atrium with the swarovski staircases leading through to the Galleria Bellissima and the LED dome roof.
    Of the Galleria(prom) are shops restaurants, the pub, studio and Bellissima lounge.

    The area feels bright and airy and quite glitzy without going over the top, if you look at the deck plans you can see they have packed a lot into this space.
    On this trip it never felt too busy but I suspect when the ship is full it could get crowded.

    As with most ships the aft area inside is mainly restaurants you only venture there for meals
    The other inside deck aft(7) is the casino and one lounge used for cirque I suspect this may be a quiet place with great aft views when not in use as it is kind of hidden away.

    Forward inside is the theatre and spa other areas you only need to venture into if you want.

    As you move up the ship the split is just as effective.
    As said forward is YC then between the main elevator banks are the indoor pool with retracting roof and the outdoor pool area.
    Above the pool at the mid stairs they have located a lounge and the gym with panoramic windows over the pool and sides of the ship.
    Above that is the Aurea sundeck(opens to YC guests)

    As typical of many ships there is the buffet that extends all the way to the back and above that they have located the kids club and activities over 3 decks including the water park and rope climb.
    Also located aft is the late night disco(area away from any cabins) and a Sundeck with small bar and small pool.

    The 5 main inside bar areas each has its own feel use and different music style
    British pub, very pubish with a duo playing most of the time ( I did hear it described as the wetherspoons at sea by one couple)
    The Studio, band/karaoke/party
    Belissima lounge(off the galleria) band and used for the animation team activities(dance classes, games...)
    Atruim (multiple bars ,various music fairly typical of modern ships for people to hang out)
    Sky lounge, relaxed and fancy cocktails, often the jazz played here from 8pm

    A few times we use the aft Horizon bar which serves the aft terrace of loungers, I expect on sunny days this will get packed, they have a DJ station I think this is for evening/late party, it was never warm enough to get used on this trip.

    They never opened the pool grill/Pizza, the bar with seating(well shaded which I like) was never busy, this will probably change on a hot summer cruise.

    Even though we were right at the front it was only when heading right to the back you felt the size of the ship, if in a regular cabin I think we would aim for mid ship elevator that way all the things we would be using most of the time would be relatively close.
    The bottom line.

    The big question is it worth it.

    Ship in a ship comes at a price and there is definitely value there but you need to compare to the other options at the price points you are happy with.

    We are well away from the £50-£100pppd range.
    Cheapest I found on a quick look since back was an YIN for around £160pppd the YC suites start over £200pppd and that opens up quite a few options on the other lines and starts to include smaller ships like Azamara and Seabourn.

    As reported in the blogs there were a few hickups, I achieved the goal of this trip to get a taste of MSC and the YC, I think we got decent value
    I can see the potential and will be on the lookout for YC cabins going forward, budget constraints mean we will still be mixing any pricey cruises with cheapies.

    I liked the rest of the MSC product and this ship but as YC we did not need to spend 100% of our out and about time with the masses so we need to try that as well to get the full picture

    Given that basic cabins on MSC can be very competitive I will be watching a lot closer going forward.
    Happy to lump MSC in with the main stream RCI, Celebrity, Princess, NCL when looking they all offer something different and we like to mix things up.

    Having had decent experiences with Marella and CMV last year we have a lot of choices with 3 new lines on our selection list.

    I will continue to report anything I find in the deals section, we can't do them all so hopefully something pops up that others can benefit from.

    One thing to note is that I have been told that the drinks prices on MSC have gone up a lot since last year so included drinks packages need to be considered carefully, with the mid range you do get a lot of drinks excluded.

    Thanks for that excellent and detailed report Topdeck. I still don't think MSC is for me, even in the YC but I might try it if ever I saw a good deal.


      Fantastic summary Topdeck, thank you.

      I'm doing my first MSC cruise later this year, but on one of the older ships, and not in YC, but it is to Venice and the Greek Islands, so I'm sure I will cope

      Do you know how you find out which drinks package you have? Mine came with the cruise, but I'm not sure what level it is? ...................................Carol


        There is a lot of confusion with the packages even the head bartenders and bar manager were not sure what is included.

        There are old and new packages but the tablets they used knew what each person had included with their packages.

        if a recent booking through the UK I think they were including the premium package with Fantastica.
        All UK bookings get the basic water/hot drinks with meals

        The premium is upto €10 which covers plenty of options.
        You can upgrade on board to premium plus for around €10 a day.
        the current pricing will be out there somewhere I did not bring a menu .

        Just looked at MSC site and they have changed the deal.

        The current one is called "Get More Get All"


        For your Winter 2019-2020 cruise, share your favourite moments on all your social apps like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and remain connected at all times with our Wi-Fi Social Package* while sipping on one of our refreshing drinks packages.
        • Book an Interior cabin and receive a complimentary tea,water and coffee package and Wi-Fi Social Package
        • Book an Outside cabin and take advantage of our Easy Drinks Package and Wi-Fi Social Package
        • Book a Balcony cabin or a Suite and enjoy a Premium Drinks Package and Wi-Fi Social Package
        • Book the luxurious Yacht Club Experience for unlimited consumption of all drinks by the glassand Wi-Fi Social Package


          Great summary TD, thanks for putting it together.

          We have only done the one MSC and it was YC which we loved. We found we wandered around the ship but always retreated back to the YC area so didn't have the full MSC experience.

          I would certainly sail with them again and we are also keeping a close watch on the prices, we got a good deal on Meraviglia and that is the benchmark for future trips...Carol


            Thanks for taking the time to review your trip. I will be watching out for any good deals as I don't think it's my first choice of line but I can't put my finger on why I think that .If that makes sense .


              Originally posted by Guy, Ormskirk View Post

              I would certainly sail with them again and we are also keeping a close watch on the prices, we got a good deal on Meraviglia and that is the benchmark for future trips...Carol
              This is something cruise lines are always trying to correct upwards, the price expectations.

              I am not ready to open my wallet and let them help themselves like some do.

              YC pricing/availability is variable by region so worth keeping an eye on EU and US pricing.
              Back in Feb I was also looking at the various PREZIOSA end April/May itinerary and the entry price pppd varied a lot, you could combine 2 legs and save over £500pp over the longer trip.
              Last edited by Topdeck, London; 21st March 2019, 11:49 AM.


                Thanks TD - large inward looking ships are not a match for me.



                  Might as well post this here.

                  MSC UK have destroyed their search engine capabilities with the new interface.

                  Until they block it you are better using one of the other countries web pages to search for YC cabins then use the UK site to price up.

                  I use US but IE still works in english


                    Nice summaryTopdeck. Thanks.
                    See my cruise blog: HERE


                      Brilliant summary


                        Thanks for your review TD.
                        don't want to work, just want to cruise.


                          Great summary TD..............Now where's the one from ?????????????


                            So good of TD to make the effort when he really didn't need to as he paid for himself...Carol


                              Originally posted by carol, welwyn garden city View Post
                              Fantastic summary Topdeck, thank you.

                              I'm doing my first MSC cruise later this year, but on one of the older ships, and not in YC, but it is to Venice and the Greek Islands, so I'm sure I will cope

                              Do you know how you find out which drinks package you have? Mine came with the cruise, but I'm not sure what level it is? ...................................Carol
                              If you log in to your booking you'll see a tab called booking details it will show on there


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