I flew in on the evening before departure day in Roma, the heart of the Roman Empire, the epicenter and holy ground of history. I urgently had to see some of the main attractions of La Città Eterna, the 'Colosseo', Campidoglio's 'Lupa Capitolina' with Romolo and Remo, the 'Arco Di Costantino', and grand boulevard Via Dei Fori with the emperor statues of 'Avgvsto', 'Nervae' and 'Traiano' on the north side and the decorated statue of 'Caesar' on the south side. I made some night shots of the illuminated monuments with my camera, before I returned back to my hotel late in the evening.
The weather was bad on the next morning, the cruise departure day, when I took the regional train to Civitavecchia at 11:12am. As every time before, I had to walk the entire station of Roma Termini along to get to the platform from where the train of Trenitalia then departed on time, no big problem with a rolling suitcase. The train was nearly empty on this Monday morning, plenty of space for me and my baggage; ticket costs €5.00 at the ticket machine, paid with credit card and PIN. I left Roma a little bit wistfully, this wonderful place on earth, but saw 'MSC Meraviglia' already from the train, just before arrival in Civitavecchia at 12:20pm, with 4 minutes of delay. The train ended in Civitavecchia, thus I had not to drag my baggage down and up the stairs. I haven't seen any taxi there, btw.
I then walked to 'Largo Della Pace' Fermata Bus Navetta Civitavecchia at Via Prato Del Turco, from where Port Of Civitavecchia offers a free and frequent shuttle bus to the each the cruise ships, just to find it closed after 20 minutes and 1500m of walking. It was windy, cold, and the traffic was crazy in this small town. There was no sign or any information about a replacement bus stop, but an old couple, rarely speaking English, also got stranded there with their baggage.
I decided to walk to the ship. So, back through the harbor area to 'Forte Michelangelo', and just behind the fortress, next to the big gate in the fence, which was open today, I found the replacement CruiseBus stop there. I put my baggage into the bus, no check of documents was made, and after a short ride of just a minute, I arrived at 01:14pm in front of 'MSC Meraviglia', berthed at pier 12, next to the small 'Terminal Bramante'.
Few other guests arrived, and there were absolutely no queues, nowhere. From now on, everything went very quickly; check in, reception by a butler from the 'Yacht Club', who was handing me out the coupons for the 'Soft Drink Package' I had purchased online at home for €34.00, 14 pink coupons for 14 soft drinks obtainable in bars and restaurants. After that, I passed the security control and the photo spot, I declined to get photographed, the butler carried my baggage up the gangway stairs, I entered 'MSC Meraviglia' at 01:23pm on deck 5, next to the 'Reception Guest Services' in the 'Infinity Atrium'; another security check, and a picture was made for the 'Cruise Card'. The butler guided me through the 'Galleria Meraviglia', showed to me how to get a priority elevator with my 'Cruise Card', entered the 'Yacht Club' on deck 16, and I got some information about the 'Yacht Club' from the concierge. He began to speak German, so I released him from the pain and we continued speaking English. He offered me a daily printed newspaper, and eventually, I was brought to my 'MSC Yacht Club Deluxe Suite', stateroom 14008 on deck 14, starboard side at 01:32pm. The butler handed me out the 'Cruise Card' and gave me a short guided tour through the suite, showing me everything, and he made sure I, understood that the 'Cruise Card' must stick in its slot next to the suite door to activate the power supply for the suite. Arranged on the table were Vino Spumante and a fruit bouquet. The 'Daily Program' in German language was arranged on the desk together with other information and the 'MSC Bracelet', a wristband that can be used alternatively to the 'Cruise Card' on board; for example, holding it against the NFC reader to open the stateroom door.
At 03:00pm, after a short siesta, I activated the 'MSC App' using my Internet ID which was printed on the 'Cruise Card'. A half an hour later, I showed up at the 'Yacht Club' concierge, because I could not lock the safe in my suite. He would send someone to me within a few minutes. And indeed, after a short while, a man came and the problem was solved immediately. Next was to get internet access for the 2GB 'Standard Internet' package, I had already purchased for €47.90 before the cruise at home online. In the 'MSC App', I clicked 'Internet Access', then the hamburger menu, followed by 'Create Account', and eventually, I had to type Internet ID, my eMail address and I could type a password of my choice. I bookmarked the LogIn page for quick access and could browse the web after clicking 'Start' twice on the LogIn page.
In the late afternoon, I took a first kind of a sunbath in the weak March sun. The weather forecast for the entire cruise was so evil that already had preventively cancelled, erased and deleted all my expectations for the so needed sunshine after the long winter. So, every single hour of sunshine and warmth would feel like a bonus on top of the cruise.
At 05:08pm, I activated my 'Cruise Card' at one of the terminals near the 'Reception Guest Services' in the 'Infinity Atrium' on deck 5, selecting a language of my choice out of a broad range of available languages. A deposit of €250.00 was reserved on my credit card, and I had to sign on the screen, instead of giving my PIN.
The security drill was held for all passengers boarded in Civitavecchia from 05:25pm on in the 'Broadway Theatre', no life vests to bring with from the stateroom, seats were a little bit narrow. The event was offered in 7 languages; English, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese in a theater that was filled with about 800 guests, and the show was done after 20 minutes.
At 06:29pm, 'MSC Meraviglia' pushed herself away from the pier, and 14 minutes later, the ship left the harbor of Civitavecchia. It was windy, cold, and the sunset looked through the clouds. The wind shook 'MSC Meraviglia' a little bit, but later at 08:00pm, when I had dinner at the 'Marketplace Buffet', 'MSC Meraviglia' rolled and shook much more intense; guests, me included, rolled while walking around from one side to the other as well. There is an electronic bell on every table that can be used to call a waiter and order beverages. Tab water is included in the cruise fare from dispensers, plastic table ware is used here. To my surprise, the 'Marketplace Buffet' wasn't crowded at all, and I even had a window table, no congestion at the buffets and no restricting opening times, very pleasant.
After dinner, I opened 'Profile' and 'Onboard Payments & Billing' in the 'MSC App' for a look to my board account. The daily service charge of €10.00 was listed together with a donation of €1.00 at the hands of UNICEF, and the soft drink, I had purchased, plus 15% service charge billed separately for onboard expenses in bars and restaurants; I had forgotten to bring a coupon.