On Tuesday morning (11th November) the port of Southampton welcomed MSC Cruises newest flagship the brand new MSC Grandiosa on her inaugural visit to the UK’s no.1 cruise port.
Just two days after she was christened in Hamburg her visit to Southampton is part of a series of inaugural celebrations as she heads to the Mediterranean to start her maiden season.
MSC’s new flagship
With a length of 331 metres, 181,541GRT and with a maximum capacity of 6334 guests, MSC Grandiosa is the first of the new Meraviglia-plus class and is now the largest ship in MSC Cruises ever growing fleet.
According to the line she is also one of the most environmentally friendly ships at sea and features a host of technology including closed loop Hybrid Exhaust cleaning system (EGCS) which reduces SOx exhaust emissions, Ballast water treatment system, energy-saving LED lighting throughout, and shore-to-ship power technology all of which are designed to reduce the ships impact on the environment.
Along with 500 travel agents, travel media and a host of other UK cruise bloggers I was invited by MSC Cruises for an overnight stay on board to take a look around and to sample what MSC Grandiosa has to offer.
As usual MSC now how to put on a party an following on from the success of local musician Craig David at the MSC Bellissima event earlier in the year MSC invited another famous Southampton local to play none other than Radio One DJ Scott Mills who went to Crestwood School in Eastleigh rocked the galleria grandiosa with an hour long set of music.
MSC Grandiosa was originally due to sail for Barcelona the following day however due the forecast of severe storms in the Bay of Biscay her stay has been extended, and she sailed for Barcelona 0700hrs this morning.
I will be posting a full ship review, and video coming soon.
As always thank you for taking the time to read my latest post.
Norwegian Encore is a fitting name for the fourth and final ship in Norwegian Cruise Lines successful breakaway-plus class. She was launched last week, and I was invited on her preview cruise from Bremerhaven to Southampton to get a taste of what she has to offer.
Ahead of her arrival in New York today and my full ship review here are the five things I loved about the ship and one I didn’t!
5 things I love about Norwegian Encore
Largest race track at sea
The first race track at sea was introduced in 2017 on Norwegian Joy, the following year Norwegian Bliss followed with a longer 1,000 feet track and once again the track has been increased in length on Norwegian Encore. At a whopping 1,100 feet long the Norwegian Encore Speedway holds the record for the longest race track at sea. The track loops around over two storeys and now includes two sections which extend 13 feet over both sides of the ship. As with the previous track on Joy and Bliss there is a viewing gallery which is covered on Encore and gets you up close to the racing action but in a new addition spectators can now fire a laser at the cars to give them a turbo boost.
Originally debuted on Norwegian Joy, the observation lounge is an amazing public space and more akin to the luxury haven area also found on these ships. The 20,000-square foot space is located forward above the bridge, which on the last three Breakaway-plus ships has been lowered in order to accommodate it. Spanning the forward section on decks 15 and 16 the area was designed primarily for taking in the wonderful views of Alaska, but no matter where you are cruising you will be wowed by the beautifully elegant décor as you walk through, only for your breathe to be taken away by the floor to ceiling windows and wonderful view. The huge lounge is the perfect place to grab breakfast in the morning avoiding the buffet crowds, enjoy that mid morning coffee while reading a book or your favorite cruise blog! In the evening its the prefect pre-dinner drinks venue, due to its small bar and no live music.
The District Brewhouse
The District brewhouse is an adults only venue designed in partnership with Miami’s Wynwood Brewing Company. It features its own its own keg room which is visible behind a glass wall and if you like craft beers this is the place for you with over 50 different bottled and 22 draft beers to choose from plus hand-crafted speciality cocktails are also available. During your cruise you can even get a list of the different beers to try that and the bartender will happily tick them off for you!
I am a fan of promenade a deck, and so many modern ships don’t incorporate them anymore. For me there is nothing better than looking out to sea while sat outside enjoying your favorite food, drink and company. And this is why I love the waterfront, and both the breakaway and breakaway-Plus class ships feature this quarter mile oceanfront promenade, with many of the bars and restaurants having an outside area along the waterfront.
Single use plastics ditched!
So anyone that knows me or reads my blog will be aware that the environment is of great importance to me. And one area I am very keen on is the single-use plastics issue. I am personally trying to reduce my families single use plastics usage at home and it frustrates me that when I step onboard many cruise ships there is still so many of these items being used. But things are changing, as part of the companies Sail & Sustain initiative in 2018 the line removed all plastic straws from its fleet of 16 ships and starting with Norwegian Encore it is eliminating all single-use plastic bottles, totaling round 6 million bottles per year. Instead, Norwegian will stock water from the Jaden Smith-founded company JUST.
The JUST water cartons are made from paper, while the cap and shoulder are made from a sugarcane-based plastic, whats more the cartons are refillable and recyclable.
So those were five things I loved about Norwegian Encore, it wasn’t an easy choice but these were firm favorites for me.
No vegan options!
Unfortunately there was one area that did disappoint me, and it may actually dissuade me from cruising on Encore or with Norwegian in the future which is a shame, and that was the lack of vegan options in the restaurants.
On the two nights I was on board my restaurants were pre-chosen for me as it was a press trip. The first was Q Smoke House and the second was Ocean Blue. On the first night I tried the smoke house but unsurprisingly there was not a vegan option and I ended up with fries and a sweet potato jacket with salad! On the second night I spoke to the restaurant in advance and was told that they don’t cater for vegetarians or vegans. So that night I ate at the Manhatten Lounge which is a beautiful venue and from the food and décor you would think it was be a specialty restaurant but it isnt, along with Savor and Taste its the equivalent of a main dining room with all three venues sharing the same menu. Although there were vegetarian options which were clearly marked there weren’t any vegan options, and alot of the veggy options came with cheese! Luckily our table had a very helpful waitress who was only to happy to help and thanks to her I enjoyed a specially made salad as a starter, followed by pasta, and for dessert I enjoyed sorbet and a surprise chocolate gateau which wasn’t on the menu but when I enquired both were actually vegan although not marked as such.
My point is that while I have no problem that not every restaurant has a vegan option, vegan passengers should be able to find something suitable on the menu in at least one of the restaurants be it the MDR or buffet.
Overall I have to say I loved the ship, I love the decor on this class of ship and find them very easy to find may way around and really like the large children’s areas which are som of the largest I’ve seen on any ship. If I knew that I could easily find vegan dining options onboard I wouldn’t hesitate to book a cruise and it’s something I will be looking into further.
Are you due to cruise on Norwegian Encore? I would love to hear your thoughts.
My full Norwegian Encore ship review coming soon.
As always thank you for taking the time to read my latest post.