When Planning a Cruise, Does Size Really Matter?

WORDS: Phil Hawkes PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

It’s a good question.

I found the answer the easy way – by going cruising on a big, bold, beautiful new ship, the MSC Euribia around the fjords of Norway. This destination was an unfulfilled bucket wish, but initially I had some questions about the ship… the large number of people who would become my new best friends, and how the various facilities, crew and hospitality staff, activities on board, and onshore excursions would cope with their demands.

Euribia is nineteen decks high and bigger than the block of flats where I live. The scale of this as I arrived at the Port of Copenhagen was staggering.  How could this baby float, let alone carry so many passengers happily around the oceans?


First, the size details. Launched in June 2023, the ship was “made to order”, not a refurb.
If you’re into facts, she’s a lengthy 333 metres long (more than 3 rugby pitches) and 43 m. wide.
She can accommodate over 6,000 passengers (on my cruise there were only a modest 5,237), with
15 guest decks and 32 elevators! It’s enough to boggle the mind. As I took a first look from the shore,
I boggled indeed. The ship’s exterior based on the theme of “Save the Seas” is a thing of beauty (it won an international design award) and I could only marvel at the architecture and the engineering skills that made it possible.  The building cost was also a boggle…USD 850 million.

Check in and boarding was a breeze…just 20 minutes. It became apparent throughout the cruise that MSC, based in Geneva, has finely tuned systems and procedures, as you’d expect from a Swiss company. Everything runs like…clockwork.

Within the ship, there are too many features to list here, but let’s start with a most important one…the cabins. Better than expected was my verdict, as on a ship there’s not too much room to play with. On Euribia, the designers have captured a stylish feeling of space (the balcony helps), a modern bathroom with a shower you can actually turn around in, and a comfortable bed and sofa.

For foodies the main venues are Market Place (all day buffet with a huge variety of food stations…included in cruise price); Main Restaurant (a la carte, also included); and optional speciality restaurants and bars ranging from classy Le Grill to Teppanyaki, Mexican, Italian, chocolate and gelati bars (yum), the Champagne Bar, a British pub; and so on. You won’t go hungry on board! Or thirsty, for that matter… there are 21 bars and restaurants to choose from.

There’s also a Swarovski-studded staircase linking three decks…if glitz and glamour are your thing, you’re at home here. Add to that several entertainment venues and lounges, a sizeable theatre, and 700 sq. metres of play space and games for kids from 0-17 and a professional child-minding service up to 2 am. For “kids over 18” there’s the casino to play in. A top-class gym, pools, and even a “waterpark” with slides perched above the top deck. Awesome. It’s like a small resort floating on the sea.

If you’d rather splash out (not literally) on an upgrade, the MSC Yacht Club is a separate for’ard section of the ship, like a business class with its own pool, restaurant and many other exclusive features. It’s worth checking out when you book.

Was my question answered? Yes, big is beautiful when it’s this good, and definitely right for small groups of friends and families. There are plenty of places on board to escape from them!



There was plenty of fun to be had on shore, as well…when I could tear myself away from the pool deck or the taco bar!

From Copenhagen we sailed to Norway overnight and were at sea the next day, navigating the majestic Storfjorden and docking in Hellesylt. Then an exciting RIB (like a large 600 hp zodiac) ride through the narrower part of the fjord… those in front enjoyed getting slightly wet despite the impressive safety vests provided. Everyone agreed, this was one of the highlights of the whole cruise.


Next day finds us in the pretty port town of Alesund, well known for its Art Nouveau architecture, quirky little shops and the panoramic views from the peak overlooking the town. If you were on a self-drive trip, this would be the ideal stopover point.

Now we reach the big bopper destination…Flam. This where we take the famous Flam Railway on a scenic, winding track up to the villages of Myrdal and Voss  where we have a typical Norwegian lunch (did somebody say smoked salmon?) and a walk around the village in the crisp air. Friendly Trolls will greet you around every corner, in fact some unkind person said I look like one, but I have no comment to make.


This is a popular tourist destination and you’re well advised to take the MSC onshore tour offering, especially as you wouldn’t want to miss the ship’s departure at 4.30 pm, so the return down to Flam by coach is perfectly timed. Just like clockwork, as expected!

Next, time to recharge the batteries (ours, not the ship’s) with a day at sea to relax, enjoying the seascapes as we hug the Norwegian coastline, catching up on reading, using the onboard wifi and refuelling the body.

Final port of call is Kiel in northern Germany, where another tour takes us to view the huge naval shipyards, a reminder of Allied bombing raids in WW2. And a look at the Kiel Canal which links the city with the Elbe River near Hamburg and was designed to save days of navigating around the peninsula…
luckily it was spared the Allied bombing for strategic reasons. These days, with the locks doing good business, up to 40 ships can use the canal in a day. Kiel was much more interesting than I’d imagined, from an historical perspective. The cruise ends back in Copenhagen next day, with time to enjoy the delights (but not the exorbitant cost of coffee) in one of the world’s most attractive cities…a fitting finale to a memorable experience on MSC Euribia, where size really does matter.


The Euribia design project was conceived around an ambitious goal of greater sustainability and environmental responsibility, given increasing concerns about cruise ships’ fuel usage and waste disposal. The ship runs on LNG, not diesel, and hooks up to shore power in port wherever possible. In June 2023 MSC Euribia, the line’s flagship, achieved the world’s first net zero greenhouse gas emissions on a cruise voyage from France to Denmark.   Other innovations include a brand-new onboard waste disposal system. In fact, MSC Cruises has become the first major line to be awarded the Green Marine Europe Certification, a voluntary environmental certification programme for the maritime industry. Quite an achievement.



Adina Apartment Hotel is the ideal place to park the carcass while you anticipate (or recover from) your cruise adventure.  Why?

* The hotel is apartment-style, with extra space to spread your stuff around and pack/repack.
* There’s a washer/dryer included in most rooms (check when you book)… a great feature for     Aussie travellers a long way from home.
* Conveniently located between the city centre and the cruise ship terminal.
* A gym, spa and heated pool.
*It’s part of the TFE group who operate Adina properties in Australia, so you can expect a familiar Aussie welcome (and Vegemite).

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It was a pleasant surprise to find a young Aussie entrepreneur/owner making waves… before the cruise… in the lively CPH food scene famous of course for its NOMA legacy. Welcome to the ARK group, three restaurants run by Jason Renwick and Matthew McGuigan, with Exec Chef Brett. Here, they highlight creative culinary innovations including daily foraging for plants and herbs, which have the city buzzing. Their menu is impressively brave, but at the same time absolutely mouthwatering. As Jason said, “guests should not be turned off by terms such as ‘plant-based’. This is in every way a menu designed to bring the taste buds to life, with organic wines to match”. Or as Matthew added, “our aim is to offer ‘healthlife’ cuisine with freshly picked produce such as a variety of mushrooms from our own farm”. My friends and I left hoping they get this act together at the Gold Coast soon!


Good to see long-standing jazz favourite venue Jazzhus Montmartre back in business after the Covid disaster years. I was lucky enough to visit on a night when an Estonian group, the Karmen Roivassepp Quartet brought the house down (not literally, thankfully), with Karmen’s vocal artistry and the musicians’ classical training shining through. There are two sets, and if you go for dinner first, the food’s great too.