MSC Bellissima – the literal translation from the Italian means Beautiful; so a very confident name for an enormous, great big new ship. We wanted to find out if she deserved such a compliment so were thrilled be able to join Bellissima for a short section of her Inaugural cruise from Southampton to Genoa – embarking in Barcelona for just two nights aboard.
First impressions… ok, yes she is HUGE – from the outside at least! Im not going to write about cabins and amenities as that will be well covered elsewhere although I just want to mention that there is a large overhang above balconies in some higher levels of the ship and other balconies are set well back and will have limited views. Bellissima is definitely a ship that will reward studying your deck plans before booking! Our cabin was right at the bow on Deck 8 – 8002
So yes Bellissima is large but yet, oddly, I felt that she was a bit like a reverse Tardis! She felt much smaller on the inside than you expected. Thats not a criticism, rather a tribute to the clever way that the designers have used the huge amount of space at their disposal to give you a feeling of spaciousness without making you feel small or insignificant. The cruise was completely full yet pretty much wherever we went and whatever we did we didn’t have to queue or wait for a seat. You really can’t say that about much smaller ships!
Some of this has been achieved by very clever use of the ‘dead’ areas of public space… for example the lift lobbies on each floor feature large leather sofas, electronic boards featuring ships guides and event planners, even a model of the ship that the deck is named after! So even while you wait for others at the lift there is plenty to occupy you and stop you feeling stressed. I would say ‘while you wait for the lift’ but we honestly never really did – these must be the fastest ships lifts at sea as even when luggage was being moved and some lifts were out of action we never waited more than a couple of minutes.
As you move around the ship you transition from one area to another through an individual entrance hall – this helps thin out crowds obviously but it also adds to the sense of theatre and occasion…I would particularly single out the entrances to the restaurants, the Cirque de Soleil lounge and most notably the casino, where the clever use of glass and mirrors made me feel as if I was spinning into a different world!
Outside the restaurants, wine bottles cleverly feature almost as an art installation, which is an innovative, interesting and efficient use of space.
That brings me to the thing that most impressed me about Bellissima, the use of clever and innovative lighting and illuminated panels. The most obvious of these is the huge illuminated ceiling in the arcade which changes constantly and even features in its own show! The quality of the pictures and animations is literally jaw dropping when you see them in the full size.
The same technology is also used in some bars and in the theatre for some of the most impressive backdrops I have seen anywhere. I’m not sure the theatre team is making the fullest use of them yet but once they do just watch out, as even now the sudden appearance of a tree surrounded with butterflies or a full height waterfall is spectacular.
The lighting designers have done a brilliant job with outside lighting at night too. My pictures show just one evening but apparently the colours and moods can be changed constantly to give a different feel for different events.
We thoroughly enjoyed our two days on board and can’t wait to go back for a longer voyage. We were particularly impressed by the staff of all departments who went out of they way to tell us how proud they were of their lovely new ship that is Bellissima indeed!
This blog was originally published in March 2019 as a guest blog for Cruise Excitement.