Swiss cruise giant MSC Cruises saw the arrival of MSC Splendida in Shanghai yesterday, completing her maiden Asian journey from her European home to the Chinese port by way of Dubai, UAE. She heads to Yokohama tomorrow (27 April) to celebrate MSC’s ten-year anniversary in Japan and kick off a special celebratory itinerary of Yokohama, Muroran, Aomori and Sendai.
The birthday itinerary has been timed to line up with the legendary Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, the famous fire festival where millions of tourists join the people of Japan in a celebration featuring large illuminated lanterns, constructed from coloured rice-paper and displaying huge images of demons, warriors, and horses which are paraded through the streets alongside a throng of musicians and dancers.
This itinerary also represents the company’s expanding footprint in Asia, with MSC Splendida being the biggest ship the cruise line has ever homeported in the region.
Speaking at MSC Splendida’s maiden call ceremony in Shanghai, Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, said: “MSC Splendida does not mark the end of our ambitions in China and Asia overall. On the contrary, we see this market as a global priority and are committed to serving it with our very best ships and product.”
In Muroran: Mount Usu & Lake Toya
Venturing to Mount Usu and Lake Toya, visitors will enjoy a traditional Japanese hot spa experience, set against mountain views. The tour begins at Nishiyama Crater Walking Trail at Mount Usu, a stratovolcano (a volcano created from alternate layers of lava and ash) before sampling the hot spring at Lake Toya, said to provide relief for ailments such as neuralgia and arthritis, as well as being a natural beauty therapy.
In Sendai: Kinkasan Island sightseeing
This trip into the small islet of Kinkasan Island of the Miyagi Prefecture is a great opportunity to take in views of Pacific Ocean, Sendai City and the Kurikoma Mountains. The Koganeyama Jinja Shrine is an 8th-century site dedicated to Shinto kami of good fortune. It is rumoured that visiting the shrine three years in a row will cure all and any financial problems.
Prior to yesterday’s arrival, MSC Splendida — one of MSC Cruises largest ships — went through an extensive overhaul process to renovate her interiors, upgrade the on board experiences and add features that meet the expectations of Asian guests, including five restaurants serving international cuisine and an authentic Balinese spa.
Three-quarters of the ship’s cabins have balconies offering panoramic sea views, and for those looking for a touch of added luxury, the ship offers the MSC Yacht Club experience – a ship within a ship concept offering 71 butler-serviced suites with a focus on privacy and exclusivity.
MSC Splendida will set sail on 2 August, visiting the Japanese cities of Yokohama, Muroran, Aomori, Sendai and Vladivostok in Russia.