Cruise ship review: MSC Bellissima

Overall score 9/10

Bellissima, sister ship to Meraviglia, was christened by screen goddess Sophia Loren in Southampton earlier this month. Passengers can meet the world’s first “virtual cruise assistant”, Zoe, enjoy two new exclusive shows by Cirque du Soleil, and the longest interactive LED dome at sea. Bellissima is sailing in the Mediterranean this summer.

Sophia Loren: ‘What brings me joy? A nice walk with a friend. I’m an easy person to please’

The legendary Italian actress, 84, has become a godmother again – to her 14th cruise ship, the £1bn MSC Bellissima. Ahead of the star-studded naming ceremony for Bellissima the screen star spoke to Telegraph Cruise about family, films and being low maintenance.

Review: The May Fair Hotel

“Built on the site of what was the Duke of Devonshire's London home, The May Fair makes for a chic urban retreat that doesn’t take itself too seriously with its sleek lobby, marble bathrooms, first-class service and eponymous restaurant and bar that are simply damned good fun to be in.”

Read my review for Telegraph Travel here:

Introducing the world's newest cruise ship – does MSC Bellissima live up to its name?

MSC Cruises will be hoping the Bellissima will live up to its name (which means “possessing intense beauty, delighting the senses”) when it launches on March 1. 

The 5,686-passenger ship will christened by cinema legend Sophia Loren on March 2 in Southampton, with TV presenter Holly Willoughby, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and three-time Grammy Award-winner Nile Rodgers and his band Chic, and Southampton’s own chart-topper Craig David, on hand to entertain guests at the naming ceremony. 

Bellissima, the fourth ship to join the cruise line’s fleet in two years, will stay in Southampton for three days before embarking on its inaugural season in the Western Mediterranean

Here’s everything we know so far about MSC Cruises’ brand new flagship:

Acacia Africa Launches #WomenGoSolo Initiative

Launch to coincide with International Women’s day, 08 March

Safari specialist, Acacia Africa will launch its #WomenGoSolo social media initiative on International Women’s Day, Friday 08 March. The tour operator will be sharing inspirational content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and teaming up with with thirteen solo female travel bloggers to empower women to see the world alone.

Sabine Behrmann, Cape Town Manager at Acacia Africa, comments, “When unfortunate events make the headlines, solo female travel isn’t always portrayed in a positive light. The goal of our #WomenGoSolo initiative is to change the narrative. We’re here to say, it's something to be celebrated, it can be done safely, and by starting a conversation with a network of expert bloggers, we are hoping to encourage more women to give themselves the gift of solo female travel. International Women’s Day is the perfect platform for the launch and we’re exited to be collaborating with such inspirational adventurers.”

The list of bloggers involved in the campaign includes: Victoria Alao - Editor of The Stylish Trotter, Portia Jones - Editor of Pip & The City, Rebecca Kroegel - Editor and founder of the solo female travel community "She Roams Solo," Samantha Wragg - Editor of Coco Travels, Kaye Holland - Travel journalist & Presenter, Women’s Radio Station, Wambui Gichobi - environmentalist, photographer & film producer, Rachel Taylor - Editor of Taylor Made Travels, Victoria Philpott - Editor of Vicky Flip Flop, Katie McIntosh - Editor of The Katie Show Blog, Lauren Detweiler - Digital Marketer & Editor of Latitudes of Lauren, Jacki Ueng - Editor of Bohemian Vagabond and Catherine Mack - Content Creator and Catherine Bodry - Head of Travel Support, both from Loco2 - the award-winning comparison & booking platform for train and bus tickets in the UK and Europe.

On the day, Acacia Africa and their blogging partners will be sharing their inspirational quotes, anecdotes, tips and blog posts using the #WomenGoSolo hashtag, but everyone is invited to follow along and contribute to the conversation.

Sabine Behrmann, comments, “Social media is home to a growing and vibrant community of solo female travellers, and we are sure that our #WomenGoSolo initiative will inspire more women to take on the challenge, all of the bloggers involved helping to make the switch to solo travel even more rewarding.”

Acacia Africa has a firm following of female solo travellers. While the specialist’s overland and small group safaris cater to both genders, around 42% are single women, the number steadily increasing. According to the operator, Swakopmund, Vilanculos, the Victoria Falls, Lake Malawi, and more recently Pretoria and Durban (new for 2019), are popular locations for travellers to test out their solo-skills en route through Africa - Acacia's tours combining a well-balanced mix of group time and “me-time.”

Acacia Africa has been operating tours in Africa for over 24 years. Their collection includes Camping and Accommodated Overland Tours (18-39 years) and a selection of open age Small Group Safaris, Short Safaris & Treks, and City Breaks & Short Stays.  Acacia Africa (020 7706 4700; SATSA membership a No. 1931, Atta membership no. 20151, ATOL No. 6499 and ABTA No. W4093 PROTECTED. Facebook: Twitter: Instagram:

Notes to Editors:

Bloggers who have agreed to come on board with the #WomenGoSolo initiative:

Victoria Alao - Editor of The Stylish Trotter -

Portia Jones - Editor of Pip & The City -

Rebecca Kroegel - Editor and Founder of solo female travel community She Roams Solo -

Samantha Wragg -  Editor of Coco Travels -

Kaye Holland - Travel journalist & Presenter, Women’s Radio Station -

Wambui Gichobi - environmentalist, photographer & film producer -


Rachel Taylor - Editor of Taylor Made Travels -

Victoria Philpott - Editor of Vicky Flip Flop -

Katie McIntosh - Editor of The Katie Show Blog -

Lauren Detweiler - Digital Marketer & Editor of Latitudes of Lauren -

Jacki Ueng - Editor of Bohemian Vagabond -

Catherine Mack - Content Creator at Loco2 -

Catherine Bodry - Head of Travel Support at Loco2 -

Loco2 is recognised in 2018 as the UK Transport Supplier of The Year, Loco2 enables low cost booking for train travel throughout the UK and Europe. Loco2’s mission is to offer a low CO2 way to travel, at a low price, hence the name. Users can buy tickets in just a few taps on mobile via the Loco2 app (App Store and Play Store) or on