CRUISE RECIPE: MSC Cruises’ Neapolitan Pizza

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I’m Hungry to Sail Again…

When it comes to MSC’s pizza, I’m something of an expert since that’s pretty much all I consumed during the 2013 and 2014 Moody Blues Cruises aboard Poesia and Divina, respectively.

Unlike the typical sailing where leisurely meals in the ship’s dining room or specialty restaurants are an important part of my cruise experience, aboard these classic rock music cruises, I’d find myself tearing across the deck—often at mealtimes–to catch as many concerts as I could from the dizzying daily schedule of events.  Who could possibly sit still for a multi-course dinner when The Zombies or The Orchestra are about to take the pool stage, The Moody Blues are performing in the theater or Roger Daltrey is about to start belting out some of the blockbusters he first performed with The Who?

So during this lockdown, I’m blasting my music and recreating the perfect (and portable) pizza that had come to define lunch, dinner and snack time aboard those two incredible sailings.

Because, seriously, you just can’t rock & roll on an empty stomach.

MSC Cruises' Pizza

Photo: MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises’ Neapolitan Pizza Recipe:

Ingredients (serves four to six people)

2.2 lb. flour (type 00 or all-purpose)

About 2 ½ cups water

1 oz. fresh yeast

1 oz. table salt

8 oz.  Canned San Marzano or other crushed tomatoes

8 oz. ball of fresh Mozzarella di Bufala

Fresh Basil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 oz. grated Parmigiano Reggiano


In a cup, mix warm water and the fresh yeast until the yeast is fully dissolved.

With mixer:  If using a mixer, combine all ingredients together in the mixing bowl with the exception of the fresh yeast, and use the dough hook on low speed.  After 10 seconds add the yeast and mix at low speed until the dough forms a ball.  If the dough is too wet and sticking to the sides of the bowl, add a pinch of flour. If the dough is too dry, add a pinch of water. It should be ready to go in about 5 minutes.

Once a ball is formed, let the dough rest at room temperature for about 2 hours, cover it with a cloth.

By Hand:  If kneading by hand, add all ingredients together in a mixing bowl and use your hands to combine the ingredients until the dough forms a ball. Then, knead the dough for approximately 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

After kneading, shape the dough into a ball, place it into a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Rest the dough for 2 hours.

For either mixing method:  Divide the dough into approximately 6 oz. balls, place into a covered plastic tray or use plastic wrap and let them rest in the fridge overnight. Remove the dough balls from the fridge 2-3 hours before cooking.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425°F

Lightly flour a flat surface and, using your hands, spread the dough balls into two 9-12-inch circles (depending on desired thickness) and transfer to pizza pans.

Open the can of San Marzano tomatoes, add 1 oz. extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper and fresh basil, and place into a food processor to puree.

spread light layer of tomato puree on pizzas, leaving about a 1-inch crust on the edge.

Slice the fresh mozzarella and lay on top of the tomato sauce.

Pick whole basil leaves and lay over the pizzas.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle the Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bake until crust is golden brown (approx. 5-7 minutes).

-Judi Cuervo

Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.

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