MSC’s new cruise ship, Euribia, fuelled by LNG, marks the latest step by the industry to reduce carbon emissions and provide a greener cruise environment. Even the artwork on the hull was specially commissioned to underline the ship’s eco-credentials.
I boarded Euribia in Amsterdam, during its voyage from the shipbuilders in France to Copenhagen and its naming ceremony. MSC claims this was the first time a ship had completed a net zero greenhouse gas emitting voyage. Indeed, all the presentations and panel discussions I saw over my three days on board were about the ship’s environmental profile, contributions to oceanography and the charitable work MSC was doing with organisations such as UNICEF. All very laudable, but strangely there was little or no mention of what was being done to improve the experience of the guests who pay for all this. So let me fill in some of the gaps.
My balcony cabin was largely taken up by queen-size bed and two-seater sofa. There was a small bathroom which was equipped with a magnifying mirror, but it had no light. There was also a small wardrobe, with very limited space for hanging longer items. Outside, a balcony offered enough space for two chairs and a table: adequate rather than spacious.
MSC is renowned for having the largest LED ceilings at sea and Euribia is no exception. The stunning display, situated over the Marketplace area, can be changed to suit the mood or location. The area included shops, bars, a pub, speciality restaurants and a chocolate shop where you can design your own chocolate bar. The central atrium was bright and equipped with MSC’s signature Swarovski Crystal staircases.
There was a theatre and also a large lounge with a stage for various acts. I particularly liked the big band performances, so good to see more than twenty musicians and singers performing live rather than people singing to backing tracks. The entertainment was certainly top class, but as MSC still operates a fixed two-sitting dining arrangement, each show is performed twice in an evening. It was such a shame to find that hugely enjoyable performances were limited to just thirty-five minutes.
MSC has in the past been criticised by some for poor levels of service. Euribia has a passenger to crew ratio of 3.7:1. Compare this to one of the huge Royal Caribbean ships where the ratio is 2.3:1, a 50 percent better ratio. As part of its campaign to reduce paper waste and perhaps improve service, all the restaurants and bars had QR codes on tables, inviting people to connect their smartphones to the ship’s Wi-Fi, scan the codes and place their orders. This may not meet with universal approval; in the meantime, printed menus are available on request.
Other facilities included kids’ clubs, a multi-use sports area, water park with a slide, ropes course and a number of activity areas including a two-lane bowling alley, F1 simulated racing and more. However, a number of these activities are subject to extra charges. There were also walking and running tracks round the deck, a large outdoor pool and a smaller indoor solarium pool with a bar.
During the voyage I had an opportunity to sit down with Antonio Paradiso, MSC Cruises UK & Ireland Managing Director. We first met when he was new to the job. The son of British and Italian parents, he was aware how much we Brits liked a kettle in our hotel rooms and cabins, and he was successful in campaigning for this in MSC. Naturally I asked him why there was no Yorkshire Tea in my cabin, but he assured me that when Euribia comes to Southampton in October all will be well. He also commented that prices will be changed to recognise the fact that a daily gratuities charge added to a passenger’s on-board account did not go down well with the locals. Good to hear that this global company is listening to local requirements.
Equally, not everyone is fond of large ships. MSC has recently launched the Explora brand of smaller ships, holding around 970 passengers and offering immersive destination experiences. Paradiso’s responsibility has been extended to cover that side of the business as well. The first ship, Explorer 1, is operating from 17th July.
I asked him what message he had for the UK market. His reply naturally covered sustainability, but primarily he wanted to encourage people who have not tried cruising before to give it a go, especially using short ‘taster’ cruises from the UK. Clearly that’s something in which Euribia has a significant part to play. Short trips start at £399 per person for a four-night cruise from Southampton.
Then it was on to the naming ceremony. A number of speeches and presentations were followed by some great entertainment. Then MSC’s perennial ship’s godmother, the 88-year-old Hollywood star Sophia Loren, was welcomed on stage to cut the ribbon which released a bottle of champagne to crash against the ship’s bow, making this the 19th MSC ship of which she is the Godmother. Euribia had well and truly arrived.
MSC CRUISES UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 3426 3010
Ship: MSC Euribia
Facilities On Board: Restaurants, buffet, gym, spa, shops, theatres, bars, lounges, ropes course, water park, games area, kids’ clubs and sports court.
Passengers: 6,300 and 1,711 crew
Price Band: Low to Medium
Insider Tip: For those looking for a ‘no fly’ option, Euribia will be offering cruises from Southampton from 13th October 2023 to 23rd April 2024. If luxury is your thing, then book a cabin in the Yacht Club, an exclusive area of the ship offering all-inclusive food and beverage with butler service.
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10
Factfile: MSC is offering a seven-night cruises from Southampton from £549 per person including port taxes and service charges/gratuities.
Mike Pickup is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer who writes for UK national newspapers and magazines as well as travel trade titles.
Photographs by Mike Pickup