BY TIM HEDGLEY, GROUP TRAVEL EDITOR
MSC Meraviglia called in Belfast Harbour for the first time as the ship becomes the largest ship ever by passenger capacity to visit the famous port.
The ship, owned by MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line is 315 metres long, 43 metres wide and carries over 6,500 guests and crew.
Antonio Paradiso Managing Director, MSC Cruises UK and Ireland said, “It is a pleasure to be here in Belfast celebrating a milestone for both MSC Cruises and the Northern Irish cruise industry.
“Belfast Harbour is an institution to shipping and we are proud to continue to support the expansion of the cruise business with one of the largest ships in our fleet calling at the port.
“Today we have over 5,300 guests from more than 32 countries discovering the city and the surrounding areas, and we are delighted to be able to share such a beautiful part of the world with our guests.”
He added “As well as bringing guests to visit Northern Ireland, in 2018 we carried a record number of Northern Irish passengers on our ships to destinations around the world with popular destinations including the Western Mediterranean and the Caribbean.”
Michael Robinson, Belfast Harbour’s Port Director added, “Belfast Harbour has a long-standing relationship with MSC Cruises, with the cruise line making its first call to the port in 2013. We’re thrilled to welcome MSC Meraviglia as the largest cruise ship to ever visit Northern Ireland and we look forward to MSC Cruises ships returning again next year.
“The trend in the northern European cruise market is for ever-larger vessels and Belfast Harbour has already created a deep-water cruise quay and has invested in the development of a cruise terminal building in partnership with Visit Belfast and Tourism NI.”
Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast stated, “Cruise tourism has become an important part of Belfast’s tourism mix bringing visitors from all over the world to the city, many of whom are here for the first time, and together with our partners at Belfast Harbour, we’re delighted to welcome MSC Meraviglia on its maiden call to Belfast.
“It’s a real testament to how Northern Ireland has firmly established itself as a European cruise destination that Belfast has been included on the itinerary of MSC Meraviglia and I am confident that the passengers and crew will have a great time in the city and receive the warmest of Belfast welcomes.”
MSC Meraviglia has 12 unique dining venues, 20 bars and lounges, a Mediterranean-style promenade featuring the longest LED Sky Screen at sea and world-class entertainment by Cirque du Soleil at Sea.
The ship which came into service in 2017, has spent the summer season sailing Northern Europe from Kiel Germany and is visiting Belfast as part of a 17-night transatlantic cruise from Kiel to New York visiting ports including Copenhagen, Reykjavik and Halifax.
MSC Meraviglia will then spend several weeks exploring ports in North America and Canada, before making her way to Miami, sailing in the Caribbean, where she will become the first ship to call at MSC Cruises new private island in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, which will welcome its first guests on the 9th November.
MSC Meraviglia will be arriving into the Port of Belfast at 7.00 on the 26th September and leaving at 16.00.
ABOUT MSC MERAVIGLIA
MSC Meraviglia, the 13th cruise ship to join MSC Cruises’ fleet since its inception in 2003, is 315 metres long, 43 metres wide and 65 metres high, with 171,598 GRTs.
She is able to travel up to 22.7 knots and has been designed to operate in all seasons and to be able to call in most of the world’s international cruise ports, offering the widest and most exciting range of marine as well as onboard features.
MSC Cruises boasts a fleet of 16 ultra-modern ships, designed to revolutionise both the cruise industry and the passenger experience.
With elegant designs and state-of-the-art technology, the fleet offers an innovative holiday experience with world-class dining, award-winning entertainment, luxurious wellness facilities, stylish accommodation and impeccable service.
With a network across 70 countries, MSC Cruises’ holidays are sold across the world sailing year-round through the heart of the Mediterranean and Caribbean, with seasonal itineraries exploring northern Europe, South America, southern Africa, China, India and the United Arab Emirates. Each itinerary is designed to incorporate iconic destinations, mesmerising heritage sights and unforgettable attractions, connecting MSC Cruise’s passengers to the world’s best places.
2019 has seen the inauguration of MSC Belllissima in Southampton, the cruise lines largest ship to date, which will be followed by MSC Grandiosa in November, a result of the company’s unprecedented 800% growth since 2004.
As the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line, MSC Cruises has established itself as the market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa.