Number of passengers: 3,959.
Where she cruises: The Mediterranean.
When Fantasia made her debut three years ago, she was the largest and most innovative ship to be launched by MSC Cruises, introducing a new class for the Italian based line. Her interior decor blends art deco with art nouveau touches, and some of the authentic Italian design twists her siblings are famous for. Fantasia overall is a very European ship, but if you don’t speak Italian or Spanish you won’t feel out of place for long.
Who Should Go?
Things You Might Not Know
Fantasia was the first MSC vessel featuring the innovative Yacht Club ship-within-a-ship concept, and introduced the fleet’s first retractable roof covering the pool. She was also the largest cruise ship ever built for a European ship owner, and is greater in length than the height of the Eiffel Tower. MSC also offers free cruising to children under 18 years (except for port charges) if sharing a stateroom with two adults.
Of her 1,637 staterooms, a high number of 80 per cent have ocean views, many with private balconies. Inside cabins are a decent enough size at 16.8 square metres, and have single beds which can be converted to a double, a bathroom with a shower, minibar, safe and television. Standard outside cabins also have single beds which can be converted to a double, and have an elegant decor featuring cream, purple and gold tones, with padded headboards, dark wood and contemporary art touches.
Outside staterooms with a private balcony are 19.3 square metres in size, they have bathrooms which can have either a shower or a bathtub, and their decor is brighter and more airy, with lots of cream, soft yellow and dark wood. There is also a range of spacious suites also with private balconies, with a decor of blue and yellow.
The Yacht Club is a new concept introduced by MSC which includes 71 spacious suites and private facilities including a library, sky dome pool, and an elegant lounge where guests can gaze at the stars by night. The decor throughout is oak walls, Italian marble and illuminated Swarovski crystals stairs. Suites come with butler service and a concierge.
Facilities and Entertainment
Given her size it’s not surprising that Fantasia boasts a host of facilities other cruise lines can only envy. Her theatre seats 1,700 in one sitting with live entertainment every night, and there’s a 4-D cinema showing movies. The Balinese style Aurea Spa is a vast wellbeing haven with a thermal cave for relaxation and rejuvenation, and there are two major pool areas on the outdoor decks, one of which has a glass roof ideal for cooler months in the Med. Other outdoor activities include shuffleboard, a squash court, jogging track and a well-equipped gym.
Other unusual twists from an entertainment perspective include a Formula 1 simulator, where you can test out your skills. There are also no less than eight bars in which to wet your whistle, including a wine tasting bar, also a cigar room, a library, and a casino. For kids there’s a dedicated play area with a swimming pool and waterside, but beyond that facilities are more limited than you’ll find on a large US ship with no rock climbing walls or ice skating rinks. Teens do have their own disco and karaoke plus a video arcade.
True to her roots, Fantasia offers primarily Italian-style cuisine on board, and has two main restaurants – Red Velvet and Il Cherchio - which operate on a a fixed seating dining basis. There are also two buffet restaurants which are open for breakfast and lunch, and a number of alternatives to choose from.
They include L’Etoile, a romantic French themed restaurant, El Sombrero Tex Mex, which sports a boisterous open kitchen, an evenings-only pizzeria, a Sports Bar for fast food, and La Cantina Toscana, which specialises in Italian-style tapas and wine. There isn’t a surcharge for the alternative dining venues, but they operate on an a la carte basis, and you pay per course although the prices are reasonable.
The Low Down
Fantasia is a big ship with grace, elegance and big ship facilities, but it is probably one of the few ships afloat which can be all things to all people. Travelling with kids and looking for a bargain? Then book one of the standard staterooms and your kids travel free. Looking for some style and a bit of exclusivity? Then head for the Yacht Club.