By Michael Coleman
One of the world’s largest passenger vessels boasts an exclusive, amenity-laden onboard retreat.
While the ship hosts some 3,900-passengers at full capacity, Yacht Club guests are insulated in their own private area — off limits to other passengers and strictly enforced – complete with special elevator access to the ship’s Aurea Spa.
There’s a private library, a panoramic VIP lounge where breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets are served plus a private pool with sun deck, bar and whirl pools. Soft drinks, wine, liquor and beer, served within the Yacht Club, are complimentary.
Yacht Club guests also enjoy the spoils of butler and concierge service daily.
While the ship is as beautiful and glamorous as Sophia Loren, the vessel’s godmother, one really doesn’t have to leave the Yacht Club at all. Laundry, dry cleaning and pressing services are complimentary as is your favorite newspaper.
Ship architects created just 99 adjoining suites, each with a balcony. Look also for a generous-sized wardrobe closet, bathroom with shower and tub, a safe, interactive TV, telephone, Internet connection and a stocked, complimentary mini-bar.
If you do choose to leave the oasis, however, don’t be surprised if your butler escorts you to the spa or perhaps to the ship’s L’Etoile Restaurant, an a la carte complimentary venue on Deck 15.
The intimate 136-seat venue features refined fare and a stellar wine list. Look for fois gras terrine, snails in garlic butter and traditional gratinated onion soup as starters plus lobster medallions, roasted rack of lamb with garlic cream and wine reduction or filet mignon with mushrooms, sautÃ©ed vegetables and truffled Madeira sauce as main courses. Splendid desserts and cheeses, plus exceptional service, round out the gastronomic offering.
Meanwhile, a Mexican specialty restaurant on Deck 7 is a big hit with passengers.
The 108-seat El Sombrero restaurant offers standard Tex-Mex fare with a twist. Tacos, quesadillas, burritos, fajitas, steaks, lamb, spare ribs and even hamburgers have an extra kick. The secret’s in the kitchen where a fusion of friendly Asian, Philippine and Mexican cooks blend a series of spices plus a palate-pleasing Adobo marinade to most dishes. The friendliest servers onboard, bar none, work this special venue.
But, if French cuisine and Mexican fare doesn’t float your boat chefs will offer a host of Italian gastronomic choices in various other dining venues culled from Genoa, Rome, Naples, Palermo and Cagliari region recipes.
And, without question, the best pizza on the high seas is offered nightly aboard Fantasia between 8 p.m. and midnight in – where else? – La Pizzeria on Deck 14. MSC pizzas — fleet-wide – rival many of Italy’s great, family-owned pizzerias across the country.
Fantasia, at 133,500 tons, features 13 passenger decks, 13 indoor bars and lounges, six restaurants, five pools and four outdoor pool bars.
On the Web: msccruisesusa.com