Arriving back at the office, I get the question.
“How was your trip?”
The memories flood back and all I can say is: “Yes, it was amazing.” But that provides no comparison to how wonderful my experience actually was onboard MSC Preziosa with MSC Cruises over the last 5 days.
I was more than excited when I found out I’d be hopping onboard a Mediterranean Cruise with another team member to catch up with more travel agents in the industry. Visiting Civitavecchia, Palermo (which changed to Messina due to weather conditions), Valletta and Palma de Majorca – it was a perfect itinerary for someone new to the cruise scene.
After a British Airways Flight and a transfer to the port, we were greeted with the almighty sight of a beautiful vessel. Beautiful is definitely the word to describe MSC Preziosa. In all her grace and elegant design, she welcomes you onboard with a glistening exterior.
Checking in, we went through the usual process. A few MSC agents on the desks moved us through the security and issued us our faithful cards that we would guard for the next 5 days. Paying onboard is simple; just hand in your personal card and sign. This then gets added to your onboard account, which you pay at the end. (TIP: I found out that you can keep a check on your spending through the TV in your room – so make sure you check that out!).
Our bags were carried onboard and met us outside the cabins. Once reaching the steps to embark the ship, it became very real that this would be my home for the next few days, and moving closer to the entrance, catching glimpses of the sparkling interior – I knew I would be happy.
MSC Preziosa is MSC Cruises new flagship that launched in Genoa on March 23rd 2013. She is the newest vessel in the MSC fleet, adding to the appeal of her sister ships with new innovations in design and service. With 1,390 crew members, they help make the experience unforgettable.
Heading straight for the cabin, we soak up the pretty décor of Preziosa. With a busy night ahead, I’m looking forward to taking myself on a tour of the ship. Reaching our cabin, cases welcomed us. Walking into the interior room, it’s a shock at how spacious the room actually is. With twin beds, a small table and chair, dressing table, and TV – I was so surprised. What further amazed me was the amount of storage, with many drawers and a huge wardrobe, us two girls would be fine spreading out our many accessories. The use of mirrors in the room really adds to the spacious feeling, and makes it cosy rather than confined. We did get a sneak-peek in another agent’s Balcony Cabin, and this was stunning! With the room expanding, they could enjoy the scenes of sailing and the ports in all their glamour. If you’re opting for the less expensive option with an Interior room; it’s a remarkably spacious place to be. If you’re more of a Balcony lover, then the rooms are sure to be impressive.
Heading up to The Garden Pool at the back of the ship, we all order drinks for sail away. With the sky unsure of whether to let the sun shine through or embrace the clouds, we enjoy the relaxing emotions that wash over us as we can finally enjoy the next few days. The Garden Pool is serene and is located next to sun lounges and tables, so all can take advantage of the Bar right next to it all. Strawberry daiquiri was my choice of cocktail. Good choice!
Our first night was set for the Green Sax Bar with a Flower Power night theme. Not compulsory – don’t fret – but just a little bit of fun amongst our gang. The Green Sax Bar offers a relaxed and laidback atmosphere. With the bar quite full, a little TIP would be to head out to the Il Cappuccino bar next door to sort out your drinks. We met in here most nights, with live entertainment setting the tone of the evening. Elegant bauble style chandeliers line the ceilings, reinforcing the classiness of MSC Preziosa.
Our group were part of the Second Sitting gang who dined at the main restaurant, The Golden Lobster. For me, this was a little late but most people seemed happy – it’s part of the trip after all and with a busy day, it was good to have time to get ready for food. The main dining is hosted in a glamorous room with waiters galore – all smiling and welcoming us to our table with the menu. With the choice of meals changing each night, it’s simple to find something to sink your teeth in to. I particularly liked the ‘Always on the menu’ section which seemed a popular choice for those people who didn’t wish to venture for the dishes they were less familiar with. My favourite dish was the mussels in a creamy sauce – as I’d never tasted them before, so it was great to try this while on board. If requested, the waiters were more than happy to alter your order to suit your needs. Breakfast was a very different atmosphere, more relaxed and exuberant. Greeted with rolls and croissants, muffins and juices, an abundance of eggs and more – I only wish I’d of dined in there for breakfast more than I did.
If the main dining isn’t something you’re looking for on a more chilled evening – or if you’re still starving after your many courses, then the Buffet Inca & Maya is the place you want to stop off at. Offering a choice of cuisine from all over the world, you’re sure to grab a plate and pile it high. I enjoyed the Pizza station the best – who can resist a slice or two?! TIP: It does get busy in here, so bare that in mind when choosing your time to go get some grub. The next morning we went for Breakfast in the Buffet, and I had a brilliant Full English style plate of food, with waffles for seconds. We are on a cruise after all!
We arrived in port at Civitavecchia early morning, with a time of 4pm to be back on the ship. We had booked a Rome Walking Tour, which is more or less transport to and from the ship into Rome. If you’re new to the ports like me, then it is best I mention that the transfer to Rome does take around an hour and a half to two hours, depending on traffic. It wasn’t a bad drive, and it was 100% worth the ride to see the wonders of Rome. Being dropped off right by the Colosseum, one of my bucket list aims had been ticked off. Its almighty size exudes history and demands attention. We also ventured to the Trevi Fountain, worming our way through the crowds to end up at the front to make our wishes.
One extraordinary thing we got to see was the Pope and the masses of crowds that go to see him. As we were there on a Sunday, he was out greeting the crowds. He may have been a small spec in the distance, but I can say I’ve laid eyes on the Pope. Getting around, we opted for the Metro as Rome is actually quite big and we had specific places we wanted to visit. Top tip: Buy an all-day pass which cost us 7 Euros. It’s a much easier way to travel, and works as an investment if you’re looking to travel around in a set amount of time.
What’s good with cruising is the fact that itineraries can change according to the weather, which meant that a rocky night heading to Palermo was altered to a stop off in Messina. I have to admit; today I wanted to see the wonders of the ship. The weather wasn’t looking great and it was a bank holiday the day we docked which meant little places would be open. Self-ship tour it is!
Onboard, we were all jittery heading to the Platinum Theatre to watch tonight’s show ‘Wonderland: A wonderful world of Imagination’ – inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Filled with daring gymnastics and dancing of the weird and wonderful, it was an amazing show. The costumes and the sets were magical, and we were transported to a world beyond the seas we sailed.
The next day, our visit to Valletta was on the cards. Hopping off the ship and walking around the city with ease is definitely a bonus with this port. Enjoying the sun wrapped around us, comforting our UK temperaments – we explored the beautiful Malta. Everything refined in archaic sand-stone blocks, the city is beautiful; a cosmopolitan of history and the modern era.
Back on the ship, it was hot. So a trip the Ice Cream Bar was my first stop before heading to a sun lounger. With a choice of all different Italian Ice Creams, I was in heaven. Opting for a Nutella Milkshake – if you know me, you know I adore Nutella – we sat in the warmth with a cold shake in hand. Bliss!
Taking a quick look in the Aurea Spa, the atmosphere was calm and tranquil – with the gym surprisingly jam packed. Here, I got to see the lift that Yacht Club Members get to use.
Our last port of call landed us in Palma de Majorca, just for the evening for a few hours. The arrival was beautiful, with the sun setting and a cocktail in hand – it was the perfect cruise moment for me to end this adventure. As we were only here for a short time, we decided a little walk down the harbour to find a place to watch the waves would be perfect. Heading to the front, turning right, and walking – we found an Irish Pub that offered us the perfect night. It was great to chill out in the softening air and reflect on the brilliance of the ship we could spy in the distance.
Overall, I’d say MSC Preziosa is the epitome of a ‘beautiful ship’. She is elegant and poised to serve you with drinks, food and entertainment in an elegant yet relaxed style. The price point for MSC Cruises is what sells them, offering glittering itineraries to make you wonder at the world for low cost. Although MSC Cruises is geared towards the European market, (much like P&O Cruises is aimed towards the British Market) the prices and quality of ship is something to consider if you enjoy exploring other cultures. With MSC Cruises making plans to order up to four new ships worth almost €4billion, this cruise line is emerging as the game changer. Developing their audience, they are widening their scope to the British cruisers. Get ahead of the game, and try MSC – just like me!