Home » Sailing from New York City to the Bahamas Aboard the MSC Meraviglia

Sailing from New York City to the Bahamas Aboard the MSC Meraviglia

by Robert Adams
MSC MERAVIGLIA AT SEA (PHOTOS COURTESY OF MSC CRUISES)

We were booked in a MSC Meraviglia Yacht Club Suite, which came with many benefits, including priority embarkation and disembarkation, our own concierge team, a dedicated butler available 24/7.

One of my favorites things to do is watch the cruise ships arriving and departing from New York City.

When I see a ship sailing along the Hudson River, I immediately go to cruisemapper.com to find out where it arrived from and where it’s going next. If someone is sailing transatlantic from New York to Europe I want to know all about the ship, how many people it holds, how long the trip will take, and what it would cost to join them.

After 10 years of dreaming, I finally booked my first cruise from New York City. The MSC Meraviglia (msccruisesusa.com) was embarking on an 8-night trip from the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to ports of call in Miami and the Bahamas. It was a last-minute decision, but the opportunity of sailing to warm weather destinations during the Thanksgiving travel period was too good to pass up.

Also, being one of the busiest times of year to travel, it was great knowing I would not have to endure crowded airports or train stations. Just the thought of only having to pack my rollerboard with the essentials: shorts, polo shirts, a bathing suit, and a blazer, was exciting enough. Planning what to do on board and during port days, just added to the sense of adventure. This would be a first for my husband and I, both seasoned travelers, and we couldn’t wait to join our fellow passengers.

We arrived at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal at 1 P.M. and were in our cabin in less than an hour. We were booked in a MSC Yacht Club Suite, which came with many benefits, including priority embarkation and disembarkation, our own concierge team, a dedicated butler available 24/7, premier room service delivered at any hour, curated menus in a private restaurant, and a secluded pool deck.

MSC Yacht Club Royal Suite

MSC Yacht Club Royal Suite

Our cabin had a private balcony, a queen size bed (two singles joined together), couch and coffee table, a work area, fully stocked mini-bar, plenty of storage place for our clothes, and a bathroom with a walk-in shower. One of our favorites parts of being in the MSC Yacht Club was that it was a private sanctuary at the front of the ship. When we wanted to go to dinner in our exclusive restaurant on deck 18, or enjoy cocktails and appetizers with panoramic views in the Top Sail Lounge on deck 16, access to these areas was by a private elevator or stairs accessible only to MSC Yacht Club passengers. We were told that this area of the ship accommodates 200 people, and it truly felt like we were sailing on a private yacht rather that a ship with over 5000 other people.

At 1,036 feet long and 213 feet tall, with an impressive 19 decks and a capacity for more than 5,700 guests, MSC Meraviglia is the first megaship in the Meraviglia Class. It is also known as the “Ship for all Seasons” due to her layout and design, including the Bamboo Pool that is built under a magrodome, which opens and closes depending on the weather, as well as her copious selection of indoor and outdoor activities.

During our trip, there were many families onboard, happy to be celebrating the holiday together, and grateful to save some money on a cruise with the MSC “Kids Sail Free” offer (children under the age of 12 years traveling with their parents in the same cabin).

There are many activities for children of all ages, and MSC Meraviglia places an emphasis on entertainment for everyone. Along with the Galleria Meraviglia, a 315-foot-long central promenade lined with shops, restaurants, bars and a ceiling covered by a domed LED screen that provides a digital special effects, there are breathtaking acrobatics shows in the Carousel Lounge, theatrical productions in the Broadway Theatre, and activities in the arcade like the MSC Formula Racer and a 4D cinema.

Galleria Meraviglia

Galleria Meraviglia

Every day there are a variety of fun activities to enjoy, including morning yoga, bingo by the Horizon Pool, trivia games in the bars, karaoke, dance lessons, wine and spirits tastings, and many other options.


Add to this a large fitness center, a bowling alley, and special events and parties, along with one of the most intricate water parks at sea, the Polar Aquapark, with three twisting slides and an intricate ropes course called the Himalayan Bridge, and you will discover why families, including LGBTQ couples and their children, love sailing on the MSC Meraviglia.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of sailing from New York City is meeting all the people from so many different countries and cultural backgrounds that make the Big Apple so unique. Another equally rewarding aspect of cruising from NYC are the shared experiences aboard ship.

One afternoon during an at sea day, we decided to attend a passenger talent contest in the Broadway Theatre. Seven contestants who were asked randomly to participate by the MSC entertainment team took to the stage. Each and every one enthralled the audience with their performances. Ranging in age from 18 to 75, they sang their favorite songs and wowed the judges with their talent. The oldest contestant, dressed half as a man and half as a woman, delighted us with a funny, touching rendition of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” playing both the Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond roles. Needless to say, she brought down the house. It was such a pleasure to watch them and share in their enthusiasm and talent. At the end, the judges, all on board entertainers, announced that everyone was a winner!

If you enjoy theatrical performance, every night there is a show for you to see. During this cruise we had many options, including Rock Circus, featuring acrobats, musicians, and some of the greatest rock hits; and a celebration of the most imaginative illusions and magic of Harry Houdini, featuring contemporary music, elaborate costumes, amazing props, and an international cast of performers who sing, dance, and spring into life in the MSC Carousel Lounge.

Sky Lounge

Sky Lounge

Before or after a show, you will discover many dining options aboard the MSC Meraviglia. There are 12 dining venues plus 20 bars and lounges, with many options for al fresco dining and drinking. The main restaurants serve everything from Mediterranean and international specialties to steak and pasta dishes. Guests have a choice of multiple seating’s each evening, with menus changing every day, and a dedicated table each night for a personalized service from the same waiter who knows them by name.

MSC Yacht Club Restaurant

MSC Yacht Club Restaurant

The chefs prepare fresh pasta and bread daily, gourmet a la carte dining options including grilled pork chops, salt cod potato croquettes, and shrimp fettuccine alfredo, and vegan and vegetarian options are always available. The MSC Meraviglia also features five specialty restaurants that can be added to your cruise package. These include Butcher’s Cut steakhouse that serves specialty cuts of meats including dry-aged porterhouse, rack of lamb, and as well as surf and turf.

Butcher's Cut

Butcher’s Cut

Know Before You Go

For passengers with reduced mobility or disabilities, MSC Cruises encourages guests to inform them of any special requirements by filling in a Special Needs Form that is available online or through a travel agent. While aboard ship, the information/reception desk is open 24 hours, and there are several heads of department who can also help you depending on what type assistance you require. During the General Emergency Drill for all Passengers and crew that takes place before the ship sets sail, your attendance is compulsory according to international safety laws. Please listen very carefully to all of the announcements and read the emergency instructions posted behind the Cabin door. During the emergency drill all the ship’s services will be closed, and the elevators will not be accessible. You will be required to return to your cabin and watch the safety video. Afterwards, everyone must go to their muster station and have their key cards scanned by one of the crew to prove they have participated. This is the first cruise we have taken where the emergency drill is exactly like what you would experience in a real emergency. Passengers must walk up and down the stairs and assemble in their assigned areas to await further instructions. What we were most concerned about was making sure that people with reduced mobility had an opportunity to arrange assistance prior to the emergency drill, and that they knew what their options were, and who to talk to in case they needed help. So plan ahead and make prior arrangements if you or someone you are sailing with needs assistance.

 

The night we dined here we started with Grey Goose martini’s and delectable appetizers of beet and burrata salad and a jumbo shrimp cocktail. This was followed by perfectly prepared New York sirloin and a filet mignon accompanied with asparagus, Brussels sprouts and a selection of sauces for the meat: forest mushroom, pepper, chimichurri, and Béarnaise. Everything was delicious, and even though we had little room for dessert, we had to try the lava cake with bitter sweet chocolate and vanilla ice cream; the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.

Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant

Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant

The other specialty restaurants are: Kaito Sushi for fresh sushi, sashimi and tempura; Kaito Tepanyaki where chefs delight guests with spectacular flips and tricks while preparing authentic, mouth-watering meals right in front of their eyes; Ocean Cay featuring a simple menu of sophisticated seafood dishes in an elegant Mediterranean atmosphere; and Hola!Tacos & Cantina, a street food dining concept that offers a selection of Latin American and Mexican-inspired dishes and drinks.

For cruisers who like to dine at their leisure, or enjoy a tasty snack before or after regular dining hours, the Marketplace Buffet offers everything from burgers and fries to pizza, salads, ice cream and desserts, and much more.

For passengers looking to explore the ports of call on this cruise, MSC offers a variety of fascinating excursions. In Miami, a couple we met booked the Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road Art Deco Walking Tour. During the 3.5 hour tour they visited the Art Deco Historic District that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Miami Beach is known to have the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the world, and the Miami Design Preservation League was formed in 1975 to preserve and restore these historic buildings, which are from the 1930s -1940s. My husband and I have visited Miami Beach many times, and the Art Deco buildings there are a true inspiration for lovers of beautiful architecture.

After setting sail from Miami, the next stop on our cruise was the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the only private island marine reserve in The Bahamas. Passengers can enjoy eight pristine beaches surrounded by protected marine life, or book special excursions. For a personal option, book a treatment at The Spa at Ocean Cay, where you can relax and unwind with a soothing cabana massage that uses eco-friendly skincare products to help you relax and rejuvenate while surrounded by the relaxing sounds of gentle waves and ocean breezes. If you love to swim or snorkel, make sure to bring beach slippers. Some of the shoreline on the island is speckled with stones, seashells, and coral, which can make getting in an out of the water uncomfortable for your feet.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (Photo by Conrad Schutt)

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve (Photo by Conrad Schutt)

There are also many dining and drinking venues from which to choose on Ocean Cay, but check beforehand to see what is included in your cruise package. If you’d rather stay aboard ship while in port, this is the perfect time to enjoy the pools and spa on the MSC Meraviglia as many of your fellow passengers will be off exploring what the destination has to offer. During our stop in Nassau, we had the Bamboo Pool all to ourselves for 45-minutes, and the lunch buffet outside on the deck 19 in the MSC Yacht Club was leisurely and relaxing.

When sailing from New York City to The Bahamas aboard the MSC Meraviglia you will have many opportunities to meet your fellow passengers. Every day there are a variety of fun activities to enjoy, including morning yoga, bingo by the Horizon Pool, trivia games in the bars, as well as karaoke, dance lessons, wine and spirits tastings, and many other options.

Horizon Pool Deck

Horizon Pool Deck

During the cruise we met quite a few people who were friends traveling together, or solo travelers. One of the most memorable was a woman from Brooklyn who was taking her very first cruise. She wanted to treat herself to something special, and her family encouraged her to go and have fun.

We met in the Marketplace Buffet during lunch on the first day before the ship set sail. She was sitting alone and seemed to be a little shy about talking. She looked like a grandmother with her grey hair in a bun and a wool sweater around her shoulders. At one point she turned to us and asked: “Should I post something on Facebook everyday? My family said I should.” My husband and I replied in unison: “Just enjoy yourself and post your photos of the cruise when you get back to New York.

Seven days later, during the last night before we got back to New York, we ran into her again, but at first we didn’t recognize her. She was wearing a sexy, floral 1960’s style mini-dress and a bright red wig. “Hello!” she said, happy to see us again. “Have you been enjoying the cruise?” we asked. Her face lit up with a huge smile and she told us: “I met so many wonderful people and have been having the time of my life. I think I’m going to do this again.”


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