In early 2019, I was invited to board the brand new MSC Bellissima at the shipyard where it was built. I was extremely excited for the opportunity, especially since I was able to check out the MSC Bellissima Naming Ceremony – which included a mini-concert from Andrea Bocelli!
As one of the first passengers to ever cruise the ship, I wanted to write an in-depth review covering all the main amenities and things you can look forward to enjoying.
For full disclosure, while I did sail on the ship, I have not booked an actual cruise on the MSC Bellissima yet. The maiden voyage from St. Nazaire, France to Southampton, UK was by invitation for press only.
With that said, my family has sailed with MSC four times so far – twice in the Caribbean on the MSC Divina, once on the Adriatic and Aegean Seas with the MSC Poesia, and another Caribbean cruise on the MSC Seaside.
We also have a Norwegian Fjords cruise booked on the MSC Meraviglia (with Greg’s parents) later this year. And, we’ve booked a third cruise on the MSC Divina – this time on the Western Mediterranean – with my parents this fall. (Can you tell I love the Divina? You can check out my full review of the MSC Divina here.)
But, enough about our other cruises! Let’s get to MSC’s newest ship, the MSC Bellissima!
MSC Bellissima Review: My Cruise Cabin
After waiting in line to clear security and board the ship, the first thing I did was head to my balcony cabin on deck #12.
Our balcony cabin was #12219 to be exact, and it featured a king bed, an ample living area, and a fairly spacious bathroom as far as cruise cabins go.
Since I was traveling with my sister, we asked them to turn the bed from a king into two twins. That gave us a little less space than we would have had with a king bed, but we still had plenty of room to store our luggage and utilize the space in our cabin.
I took these pictures of the main living and sleeping area the moment we checked in, so the bed is still made up as a king.
I liked the space our balcony cabin provided, as well as the “flow.” We had plenty of room to move about and there was ample storage for a few suitcases and clothing in the closet provided.
I also thought the bathroom design was an improvement over some MSC ships, including the MSC Divina and the MSC Poesia. Where the Divina has a circular-shaped shower with doors that fold in, the MSC Bellissima showers have more of a square shape. That made the shower itself a lot roomier, and the door opened in a much more logical fashion.
It’s hard to explain the way the shower door worked with words or with pictures, but hopefully this shot I caught will give you an idea of what I mean.
Overall, our cruise cabin on the MSC Bellissima was…just a cruise cabin.
It’s hard to get excited about a room you barely spend any time in, right? Still, I would definitely book a balcony cabin on the MSC Bellissima if given the chance. I love having views of the ocean and a private balcony to watch the sunset.
MSC Bellissima Common Areas
The MSC Bellissima really shines when it comes to the areas where you’ll spend most of your time. This ship had one of the most beautiful central gathering areas I’ve seen on a cruise ship, and their main promenade is to die for!
Seriously, the promenade was definitely the place to be on the ship. Not only does it feature a two-story walkway with shops and specialty restaurants, but it has an LED dome that changes its design every few hours. It kinda reminded me of Fremont St. in Las Vegas in a way, but without all the riff-raff.
I LOVED the main promenade on the ship, as well as the main foyer and entertainment areas.
Pools on the MSC Bellissima
The pools were another area where the MSC Bellissima really stands out.
This ship features several different options for families who love to swim, including a giant main pool, an indoor/outdoor pool, and a smaller pool at the aft of the ship on Deck 16. Even better, the MSC Bellissima has a giant water park with multiple slides and an obstacle course! My kids weren’t with me on this particular cruise, but I could totally see them playing there all day long.
This is one reason I am excited to be on the MSC Meraviglia this summer with my kids. It has a similar set up and a waterpark I know they will love!
Here are some pictures of the pools and waterpark action on the MSC Bellissima:
Restaurants and Bars on the MSC Bellissima
If you read Cruise Critic forums, you’ll find a lot of negativity when it comes to food on MSC ships. I tend to think most cruisers are overly picky about food anyway, but this is one area where I strongly disagree.
The food on MSC ships is usually pretty good, and it can sometimes be great. When you’re eating at a buffet or in a dining room where thousands of people are being served, it’s only natural that you may not like a few things you try, right?
Like anything else in life, opinions on food are always subjective. A guy on my MSC Bellissima trip was actually trying to tell me that MSC has the worst pizza of all cruise lines. The reality is that MSC has authentic Italian pizza that most people absolutely love. In fact, they have pizza chefs making fresh pizzas all day long, and I think their pizza is to die for!
It just goes to show that some people will be negative no matter what, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
The bottom line: The food on MSC Cruises is typically pretty good. If you can’t find anything you want to eat among the many dining options available, perhaps you are the problem. Ahem.
I’ll get off my soapbox now, but it’s important to know that the MSC Bellissima has 12 different dining venues. This includes their main restaurants, a tapas restaurant, a steakhouse called “Butcher’s Cut,” a teppanyaki grill, a bistro, and a main buffet.
I personally dined at the main restaurant, Butcher’s Cut, and the buffet. Everything I ate was good or great with no exceptions. The MSC Bellissima even served gelato along the main thoroughfare. I tried some toffee-flavored gelato, and it was amazing!
I also want to point out a new dining feature I thought was really smart. The main buffet on the MSC Bellissima had several hand washing stations as you enter.
As we all know, hand washing is a great way to stop the spread of germs that can make us sick. Encouraging passengers to wash their hands is obviously a great idea for everyone onboard, and the hand washing stations are extremely convenient for families with kids.
In terms of the bars on the MSC Bellissima, there were so many I couldn’t keep track. The MSC Bellissima home page said there are 20 bars onboard, and I believe it!
My favorite bar was the champagne bar right off the main promenade of the ship. I also really liked the bar in the casino! It was roomy and there was a ton of seating. Plus, I like to gamble (and watch other people gamble!)
One thing I really like about MSC Cruises is the fact they don’t try to extort you when you buy drinks. Their drinks are always reasonably priced no matter where you cruise. Think beers for around $6 and mixed drinks for $7 to $9. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about $15 cocktails on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, so I appreciate MSC not trying to nickel and dime their customers when they price their drinks.
Entertainment on the MSC Bellissima
Entertainment is one area where I never have much to say.
The MSC Bellissima has high-quality nightly shows with dancers, singers, and more…but I never go. LOL.
Nightly shows just aren’t my thing, so you’ll have to read reviews elsewhere to find out how good the shows are on the MSC Bellissima.
I will say one thing; people I traveled with ranted and raved over the nightly shows and entertainment. That’s always a good sign.
I am also pretty excited about the new MSC Cruises partnership with Cirque du Soleil. Like the MSC Meraviglia, the MSC Bellissima will have its own unique Cirque du Soleil show that cruisers can book for a small upcharge.
I have never seen a Cirque du Soleil show despite the fact I’ve been to Las Vegas several times. I absolutely plan on booking one of these shows on the MSC Meraviglia when I cruise Northern Europe with my family later this year. I know my kids will love it!
MSC Bellissima Kid’s Club
While my kids weren’t on this cruise with me, I was extremely impressed with the kid’s club in the MSC Bellissima.
This kid’s club was significantly larger than any club I’ve seen on an MSC ship. The “younger kids” area had a few separate rooms to play in along with an entire room dedicated solely to Legos!
The MSC Bellissima also has a “teen’s club” for tweens and teens who want to get away from their parents and hang out with kids their own age.
I can’t say whether this kid’s club is fun or not, but I’m guessing it won’t disappoint.
My kids love the MSC Cruises kid’s clubs so much that they usually cry when we make them leave. They love all the activities and games offered in the clubs, and they usually make a few little friends they want to spend time with.
In my opinion, the best part about MSC kid’s clubs is the fact they are 100% free for kids during regular opening hours. This means your cruise includes a free babysitter, and that’s hard to beat!
Tips for Saving on the New MSC Bellissima
Now that I’ve covered most of the main features on the MSC Bellissima, it’s time to talk about money.
How much will your trip cost? Here’s the good news: MSC Cruises is easily one of the most affordable cruise lines available today. That’s partly due to their affordable pricing, but it’s also because kids under 11 cruise free on many itineraries.
Still, there are plenty of ways to save even more on your MSC Bellissima cruise this year. Here are some tips that can help you stretch your travel budget as far as it can go:
- Sign up for the MSC Cruises newsletter. Sign up to receive special offers from MSC Cruises, and you’ll be notified when they have special sales! Their newsletter is also the best way to find out when they’re offering free drink packages, which I just so happened to snag on our last two cruises.
- Don’t upgrade your cabin. We had a balcony cabin on this cruise, but I would have been fine with an interior room. If you need to save money and don’t want to skimp on your cruise experience, booking a cheap cabin is the way to go. You’ll barely spend any time in your room, so why not?
- Sign up for a travel credit card. Several of the top travel credit cards can help you save big or even get your cruise on the MSC Bellissima for free. Make sure to check out our list of the best travel rewards cards for some ideas.
- Join the MSC Cruises loyalty program. MSC Cruises has a loyalty program called Voyager’s Club that grants you special perks with elite status. Once you have gone on at least one cruise with MSC Cruises, you also get 5 percent off most future cruises! That’s huge if you cruise a lot and want to save money on every trip. Definitely sign up so you can earn points for all your future cruises with the cruise line.
- Get your status matched. MSC Cruises also offers a “status match” program that makes it easy to climb their status ladder if you have elite status with another cruise line or a hotel. I was able to match to MSC’s top tier “Black” status thanks to my Hilton Honors Diamond status, which means I get a bunch of benefits each time I cruise.
MSC Bellissima Review: Final Thoughts
While I cruised on the MSC Bellissima with my sister and not my husband and children, I definitely believe the MSC Bellissima is going to be a big hit with families.
This ship has a ton of public space with plenty of room to spread out, several huge pools, and an expansive waterpark to boot. The food is excellent no matter where you dine, and the ship has a ton of interesting stops weaved into their itineraries this year.
Where is it going? Currently, this ship is cruising the Mediterranean with stops in Naples and Genoa, Italy, Sicily, Malta, Barcelona, and Marseille, France. Sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it? I sure think so.
If you are thinking of booking a cruise on the MSC Bellissima (or any other MSC ship), I would definitely recommend it. I’ve booked several MSC Cruises in the last year alone, and I keep booking more because you get so much bang for your buck.
The MSC Bellissima is more of the same from MSC Cruises — more fun and more value at a price point most families can actually afford. I cannot wait to book this ship one day! Unfortunately, I have way too much travel planned in 2019, including several more MSC Cruises, so it won’t be this year.
That’s all for now! Make sure to check back later in the year for my reviews of the MSC Meraviglia and the MSC Seaside!
If you have any questions about the cruise, please post them below and I’ll do my best to answer!