Ship sail

Dubai’s largest cruise ship sets sail

The Middle East’s largest passenger cruise ship has departed from Dubai.

With a crew of 1,400 men, the MSC Virtuoso was officially named on Saturday in a ceremony in Port Rashid that took place in the shadow of the $ 800 million ship.

Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed attended the christening ceremony, a long-standing maritime tradition for ships. Legendary Hollywood actress Sophia Loren joined Sheikh Mansoor and the ship’s captain, Captain Francisco Veniero, to officially christen the MSC Virtuoso.

Awe-inspiring fireworks display lit the Dubai night sky as a bottle crashed into the ship’s left hull, a traditional way of bringing good luck and safe travel on any new ship. The lavish ceremony was followed by an intimate performance by British soul singer Rag’n’Bone Man, fresh out of a sold-out performance at the Coca-Cola Arena.

The MSC Virtuoso, which can accommodate nearly 6,500 passengers, left Dubai early Sunday morning, bound for Bani Yas. It will then sail to Abu Dhabi on Monday before crossing the sea to Doha as part of a new seven-day Arab expedition.

During the cruise, travelers can disembark to participate in a variety of excursions, including day trips to Al Ain, visits to the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and Doha Souq Waqif.

MSC VirtuosoThe namesake of comes from the word virtuoso, which means someone highly skilled. It was designed to pay tribute to the expertise of the architects MSC Cruises and the partners of the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyards in France, who designed and built the ship.

Spread over 19 levels – although deck 17 is noticeably missing due to Italian superstitions surrounding the number – the Meraviglia-Plus-class cruise ship is the largest in MSC’s fleet and the largest to bear a name in the Middle East.

A Swarovski crystal staircase and a robot bartender

Travelers embarking on the New Arabian Cruise will have a lot to discover on the ship, which is owned and operated by the world’s third largest cruise operator.

Filled with luxurious cabins, several restaurants and bars, upscale shops and entertainment facilities, the MSC Virtuoso Also features a glittering Swarovski crystal staircase, the ocean’s first drink-making robot, and a multi-game casino.

There is a theater on board that can accommodate nearly 1,000 guests at a time and where Broadway-style productions take place daily. Live musical performances also take place at the grand piano on Deck 5.

The MSC Aurea Spa offers a space to relax, with massages and therapies, a beauty salon and a traditional male barber shop. On Deck 15, the Tropical Pool has a retractable glass roof, making it an outdoor pool or an indoor swimming spot, depending on the weather. It also has several hot tubs.

The Savannah Waterpark is one of the largest water parks at sea, while the Horizon Pool offers amphitheater-style seating and lounge chairs in the water. A Himalayan ropes course is where travelers can overcome obstacles suspended some 80 meters above the ocean.

Comfortable cabins include interactive TVs, bathrooms with showers and, depending on the cabin chosen, balconies overlooking the Arabian Gulf, terraces, adjoining rooms or even a hot tub in the premium suites.

Over 30 restaurants, bars and lounges

On the dining side, there are 10 restaurants and over 20 bars and lounges to choose from. Specialty restaurants include Hola! Tacos and Cantino and Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant, and there are also five main dining rooms as well as the 1336-seat 24-hour market buffet.

Those looking for retail therapy can shop on the Six Bridge in the luxury plaza with outlets, cafes, and galleries. This is also where guests can walk under the digitally projected ceiling art that changes throughout the day depending on the mood or special occasions.

Children are well looked after at Doremiland, where there are separate facilities for infants, toddlers, children and adolescents. From the Duplo room to the mini cinema, including Nintendo Switch consoles, football fields and table football, there is something for all ages. There are also interactive sessions where kids can learn new skills, like in the ship’s Drone Academy workshops.

For more fun, the Espace Amusements does not disappoint. Designed for adults and children, it houses a two-lane bowling alley, F1 simulators, an interactive XD cinema and a VR maze. And if you’re looking to keep your fitness routine on track, there’s a well-equipped gym with ocean views and an outdoor running track.

MSC Virtuoso implemented new health and safety measures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. These include mandatory masks, social distancing guidelines, handwashing stations outside restaurants, and electronic contact tracing bracelets. All payments on board the ship are also contactless and one-way systems are in place in high traffic areas.

Dubai’s booming cruise industry

The ship’s christening ceremony in Dubai followed the ship’s UK debut earlier this year. The MSC Virtuoso sailed around Europe in the summer. It will now remain in the Persian Gulf until March of next year. Having the largest ship in the fleet of one of the world’s leading cruise operators named the United Arab Emirates reflects the growing global profile of the emirate’s cruise industry.

During the ceremony, Sheikh Mansoor said: “Dubai’s glorious maritime heritage, which is an integral part of its cultural heritage, has inspired its development as a major global maritime destination. The emirate’s status as a leading international maritime hub has significantly strengthened its position as a pivotal global center for trade and tourism. “

The cruise industry suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Diamond princess ship captivated the world in February 2020 when cases of the virus were detected on board, forcing the 3,700 people on board to a two-week quarantine off the coast of Japan.

Since then, several countries have banned cruise ships with some destinations – including Canada and Hawaii – having extended restrictions against ships until 2022.

All travelers booking travel on the MSC Virtuoso must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, have a negative Covid-19 test result and complete a pre-board health questionnaire before accessing it. The company advises customers over 65 to see a doctor for advice before booking travel.

The next seven-night MSC Virtousa Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha cruise will depart from Dubai on December 4, with fares starting at $ 519 per person; www.msccruises.com

Updated: November 28, 2021, 13:29