MSC Armonia relaunched after Refit
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msc armonia

MSC cruises made headlines earlier this week with the relaunch of the MSC Armonia. The ship set sail on the 18th of November from Genoa on a 10-day cruise to the Canary Islands. About2Cruise has been covering this ongoing story.

“I’m very proud of what we and our partners at Fincantieri have achieved with MSC Armonia. Not only is she smarter and more spacious, but we have given her a new lease of life that will appeal to experienced cruise travellers and first-timers in equal measure. This is why we call her ‘the ship that suits you’” stated MSC Cruises’ CEO, Gianni Onorato.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW ARMONIA

No expense has been spared and the refurbishment is part of MSC’s newest scheme, the Renaissance Programme. The other ships placed in the Renaissance programme for dry-dock are:  MSC Sinfonia – 12 January to 16 March 2015; MSC Opera – 2 May to 4 July 2015; MSC Lirica – 31 August to 9 November 2015.

CABINS

The Armonia holds 1,566 passengers, making it cosier and more intimate than the new builds of today. There are now 786 cabins with more balcony cabins than before the refurbishment. Amenities in all of the smartly decorated staterooms and suites include a flat-screen TV, minibar/fridge combo, a personal safe that is located behind a vanity mirror, a hairdryer and a bathroom with shower and toilet.

THREE MSC EXPERIENCES

Passengers can choose from three different experiences onboard the Armonia which are tailored to their needs. The ‘Bella’ offers what is considered standard cruise service and amenities. The ‘Fantastica’ contains added perks of luxury and the ‘Aurea’ throws in complimentary spa treatments and free refills on beverages.

DINING

There are numerous options for dining onboard the ship. The main restaurant on the Armonia is the Marco Polo, which has open seating for breakfast and lunch and serves a number of international dishes for dinner. There is also an Italian restaurant that is more formal, La Pergola which is available by reservation.

A buffet is open 20 hours a day for those that want casual dining and a variety of cuisines. There are a number of lounges that make for a great escape to sit back and relax after an exciting day at port.

ACTIVITIES AND ENTERTAINMENT

Children will be enthralled by the special areas for them that have been designed by family-friendly companies such as Chicco® and LEGO®. The swimming pool has added a Spray Park with water jets, slides and other aquatic attractions.

Enjoy unique entertainment at the La Gondola theatre which features performances of plays, cabaret shows, magicians and other interesting shows. Live music is also played in some of the bars onboard.

At the Atlantica Spa there are many treatments available from relaxing in the steam room to massage treatments from MSC’s experienced staff. A good aromatherapy session with chamomile and eucalyptus can be just the thing to remove stress and the Rasul chamber is highly recommended too.

For those who want to get some exercise on the ship, there is a gym with all the latest equipment and a view of the ocean. Outside of the spa, there is a rock climbing wall as well as a basketball/volleyball court.

UPCOMING ITINERARIES

Examples of itineraries planned for this ‘newest’ member of MSC’s fleet include 7 or 9 night winter sailings to the Canary Islands. For the summer months 5 or 7 night itineraries in the Mediterranean will be available with ports of call such as Ajaccio, Spezia, Marseille, Palma de Mallorca, Valletta, Messina and Salerno.

The most highly anticipated sailing for The Armonia is their Grand Voyage scheduled for the 25th of October 2015. This 20-night sailing is far from the typical repositioning cruise. Departing from Spezia, Italy the ship is planning stops in Europe that include Marseille and Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Malaga and Cadiz.

Then it is off to the Canary Island ports of Arrecife de Lanzarote and Santa Cruz de Tenerife before cruising the Atlantic to Salvador, Buzios, Ilhabela and Santos, Brazil.

She will remain in South America for the winter 2016 with 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 night sailings before making a 19-night turnaround back to Italy on the 14th of March.

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MSC Cruises Ship Upgrades Begin!
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From their humble beginnings as a cargo line, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) expanded into the cruise holiday industry in 1988. In the last 10 years, MSC’s successful formula placed them on the map and they have been dubbed as the “fastest growing cruise line” by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

The Italian company is once again making waves in the industry to prove that statement is still applicable. An announcement was recently made regarding their “Renaissance Programme”. MSC have pledged to renew and enhance four members of their twelve ship fleet and bring these ships up to the same standards as their newer ships.

MSC Cruises’ CEO, Gianni Onorato, commented: “When our four Lirica class ships return to the seas after a total of 38 weeks in dry dock, they will be entirely new ships with additional amenities and comfort for our travellers, allowing them to reach sophisticated and refined destinations around the world”.

Gianni Onorato MSC ceo

All of the ships involved in this £200 million Renaissance Programme project were built between 2003 and 2005 and are presently 820 feet in length and weigh 60,000 tons.

The first ship to undergo its renewal and renovation is the MSC Armonia. On 31 August she made a voyage to Palmero, in Sicily where she will remain. Being docked at the Fincantieri shipyard for roughly 11 weeks, she is awaiting her retrofit by the world class shipbuilders. After the extensive work the Armonia will back in operation on November 17th for a Mediterranean cruise from Genoa to the Canary Islands.

msc armonia at Fincantieri

Some of the scheduled improvements that are being added to the Armonia include increasing her length. Approximately 100 feet will be added and her weight will increase to 65,000 tons.

The extra space will be put to good use and the installation of 200 extra cabins will allow Armonia to carry 2,680 passengers in total. Renovations and refitting other areas of the ship will take place too including the dining and activity areas plus the existing staterooms.

Armonia’s new midsection

MSC Armonia gets a new Block

New areas will include designated spaces for the younger ones in the family, ranging from a ‘Baby Club’ which is going to be partnered with Chicco and a Teens Club with a wide variety of interesting activities geared to age.

Those who are want a quick meal or a snack will have more options available.The buffet will be open for 20 hours a day. There will also be a new lounge area to relax in as well as a new restaurant that will feature international cuisine.

For the first time ever on the ship, the MSC Armonia will have a library in which passengers can rent books to read on their journey or play a board game. The Aurea Spa located onboard will also have many new treatments in store for passengers that are sure to relieve stress.

But the biggest addition will be a brand new spray park, with water nozzles and cannons spraying in all directions. This will be a fun addition to the poolside area and will keep passengers cool in an instant even during the hottest of days.

The Renaissance programmes tentative timetable for dry dock is as follows:

MSC Armonia: 31 August to 17 November 2014

MSC Sinfonia: 12 January to 16 March 2015

MSC Opera: 2 May to 4 July 2015

MSC Lirica: 31 August to 9 November 2015

MSC promises that these ships will meet all safety standards and rival any of the newer ships coming out of the shipyards.

Images courtesy of MSC Cruises

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