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  1. Associated Press

One of the world’s largest cruise ships makes its Florida debut

Meraviglia, which means “wonder” in Italian, debuted in 2017, and has among unique offerings a 450-person venue for original Cirque du Soleil shows.
MSC Cruises brought the MSC Meraviglia to Port Miami to begin its first-ever season of sailing from Florida. The 171,598-gross-ton, 4,500-passenger vessel is tied with a sister ship as the 7th largest ship in the world. [MSC CRUISES]
MSC Cruises brought the MSC Meraviglia to Port Miami to begin its first-ever season of sailing from Florida. The 171,598-gross-ton, 4,500-passenger vessel is tied with a sister ship as the 7th largest ship in the world. [MSC CRUISES]
Published Nov. 18
Updated Nov. 18

Miami is home to yet another of the world’s largest cruise ships.

MSC Cruises brought the MSC Meraviglia to PortMiami to begin its first-ever season of sailing from Florida. The 171,598-gross-ton, 4,500-passenger vessel is tied with a sister ship as the 7th largest ship in the world.

Already, PortMiami has played host to some of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class of ships, which hold the top 4 spots.

Meraviglia, though, is the largest ship MSC has ever sailed from Florida, and its Nov. 10 arrival means the line will now have four ships sailing out of Miami, joining MSC Seaside, MSC Divina and MSC Armonia — the largest fleet the line has ever based in Florida. The ship arrived to New York in October and makes its first Caribbean sailing from Miami this week.

“Since MSC Meraviglia arrived in the U.S. in October, we’ve seen tremendous excitement and buzz from our travel adviser partners and guests,” said Ken Muskat, executive vice president and chief operating officer at MSC Cruises USA in a news release. “We are thrilled that MSC Meraviglia will now be part of the beautiful Miami skyline.”

Meraviglia, which means “wonder” in Italian, debuted in 2017, and has among unique offerings a 450-person venue for original Cirque du Soleil shows. Other highlights include 12 distinct dining venues, including two options from Michelin-star recipient Spanish Chef Ramon Freixa, French chocolates and pastries from Chef Jean Philippe Maury plus sushi, teppanyaki and steakhouse among others.

The ship also has what the line touts as the longest LED Dome at sea on its two-story Mediterranean-style promenade, plus a water park with four slides, suspension bridge, interactive cinema, bowling and a kids club themed to Legos.

The two Cirque de Soleil shows titled “Viaggio” and “Sonor,” created specifically for the cruise ship, are performed in an a more intimate dinner theater venue called the Carousel Lounge. The line also puts on six full-scale productions per seven-night sailing in the much larger main theater.

Like all of MSC Cruises’ newer ships, Meraviglia features a section called the MSC Yacht Club, a ship-within-a-ship concept that gives those who pay more exclusive spaces and even 24-hour butler service.

Meraviglia is the first in its class built at what was STX France, and is now Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. A sister ship, MSC Bellissima, debuted earlier this year, and the two share the seventh spot in the list of world’s largest cruise ships. No. 1 is Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas followed by Harmony of the Seas, Allure and Oasis of the Seas, the German ship AIDAnova and then an MSC ship in the new Meraviglia-Plus class that debuted this month, MSC Grandiosa.

This fall and winter season, the Miami-based MSC ships will call on the cruise line’s new private Bahamas destination Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a 95-acre resort with 11,400 feet of beach and its own pier. The destination will have bars, restaurants and a new lighthouse that the line said will be a focal point of evening entertainment.

Meraviglia will sail from Miami through April 5 on two seven-night Western Caribbean itineraries with stops in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Belize, Honduras and the Bahamas.

The line plans to send the ship back to Europe next summer, and in October return to New York and then Miami in November 2020.

“We are grateful to our partners at MSC Cruises for their trust and commitment to growing their business in Miami-Dade County,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. “We welcome the MSC Meraviglia to the cruise capital of the world.”

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