This is the MSC Preziosa, the brand-new cruise ship which was officially christened in Genoa on March 23. I was lucky enough to be on board for the inaugural cruise.
The launch, by Sophia Loren, marks MSC Cruises becoming the third-largest cruise line in the world - a remarkable achievement for a family-owned company that is now ranked only behind Carnival Cruises and Royal Caribbean with an annual capacity of 1.45 million guests across its 12 ships.
MSC only launched its first ship in 1997 and the new Preziosa is the fourth member of the cruise line’s ever-expanding Fantasia class.
MSC Cruises has has over 50 per cent of its capacity in the Mediterranean, 14 per cent in South America, 12.5 percent in Northern Europe, and the remainder in Africa, the Caribbean, Canary Islands and Red Sea.
The Preziosa's inaugural voyage takes it to Naples, Messina, the Tunisian coast, Barcelona and Marseille.
All of which should prove very interesting for yours truly, who last time he cruised became violently seasick and went down with a urinary infection that confined him to bed.
I aim to make sure I enjoy this cruise a lot more - and the initial signs are good. The Preziosa is more like a floating five-star resort than some of the cruising RSLs we see in Australia. The food over the first 24 hours has been good; the service impressive; the wi-fi works and there is an on-board wine bar. So far, so good.
Stay tuned as I discover the Preziosa - its many restaurants and activities - and the ports its docks at.
For bookings and details of introductory offers on the MSC Preziosa see www.msccruises.com.au.