After spending two nights in the beautiful city of Genoa where we visited the Maritime mueseum and hopped on the open top tour bus, Assistant Editor, Christian and Editor, Anthony embarked MSC Cruises, MSC Preziosa.
At 139,072 gross tons and with a length of 330m, MSC Preziosa can accomodate easily 4435 guests in a wide range of accomodation on board. So, she is no shrinking violet.
Here’s our take on the adventure:
EMBARKATION: Day 1 – Genoa, Italy.
Arriving at the port was relatively easy for us. Our hotel in Genoa was only a 10 minute walk from the cruise terminal, so there was no need for any taxis or public transport. Arriving at the terminal was like going back in time with the facade looking very grand and in well kept condition. We dropped off our baggage and proceeded to check-in. One of the bonuses of sailing with MSC Cruises for the first time is that you can status match into their loyalty club, Voyagers Club, with the level you are in with other cruise lines you have sailed on. Our Assistant Editor, Christian was therefore in the Gold tier of the Voyagers club, the second highest tier and our Editor, Anthony was matched into the Black tier, the highest level. This afforded us to be able to proceed to priority check-in where we would be able to embark the ship first before general check-in passengers. This worked very well indeed and from check-in to embarkation, it only took around 15 minutes and the next thing we knew, we were on board and having lunch and a Pepsi! It was that straightforward.
At check in, we didn’t recieve our cruise cards but instead we were told to proceed to the ship where our boarding passes would be scanned and linked to their system by taking our photo. This was a very efficient way of checking-in and cut down the waiting time for cruise cards to be found. We were told our cruise cards would be waiting for us in our cabin on board. We would then be able to register our credit cards at reception or also at the mobile electronic stations, situated around the ship. Making it for much more of a speedy procress. Kudos to MSC!
As with embarkation day, the law of the sea is to first proceed to the buffet to get something to eat and that’s exactly what we did. We jumped into one of the elevators and proceeded up to Deck 14. The buffet was split into various sections; Inca and Maya Buffets. There was a wide selection of food on offer ranging from a traditional roast to the famous Italian offerings of pizza and pasta. We then proceeded to take a seat outside, next to the Turqoise Bar, where we ordered a Pepsi as part of our all inclusive drinks package we had purchased on line before we left. At £20 a day per person, it enabled us to enjoy a wide range or beers, spirits, wines, soft drinks, water, teas and coffees. If you wanted premium branded drinks, you could upgrade to the higher package or just pay the menu price for that particular brand of drink. It represented fantastic value for money and we certainly did get our moneys worth out of it.
Cabins weren’t open until 2pm so we had ample opportunity to go and explore this vast and expansive vessel. First impressions? Stylish, glitzy and very continental. The atrium is the focal point and doesn’t disappoint with the fabulous sweeping staircases (Swarovski in lay too) and the glass elevators that afford great views over the atrium.
We then proceeded to our cabin, where we could drop our hand luggage and get access to our cruise cards. Our cabin was 11295 on Deck 11 aft. It was an inside cabin on a Fantastica experience. My goodness, it was very impressive! The size for an inside cabin was spacious, one of the biggest inside cabins we have cruised in. The decor was modern and welcoming with lovely dark wood affect wardrobes, vanity table and red carpets. Bathroom was very spacious too with good sized shower unit.
After being acquainted with our cabin, it was time for the mandatory muster drill. Our muster station was in the Safari Lounge on Deck 7 aft. As we were in Genoa, there was quite a sizable amount of guests embarking so the muster drill was fairly busy. It was however one of the oddest muster drills we have been to and one of the shortest. Pretty much only stated how to put a lifejacket on and how to go to your muster station if there was an emergency. There was no mention of other safety issues that other cruise lines mention at muster. Muster was also conducted in three or four different languages and so was something we got used to during the cruise.
After muster, it was time to sail and we dropped off our lifejackets in the cabin and proceeded upto Deck 14 where we would see MSC Preziosa depart from the berth. It was a fantastically sunny afternoon, ideal for sailaway. As we were berthed bow in, we had to reverse out from the berth and turn in the outer basin of the port, which was very interesting to watch. We then proceeded to move out from the port and into the open sea. The cruise had well and truly started now!
For dinner, we decided to eat at the Inca and Maya Buffet on Deck 14. This gave us plenty of choice of what we wanted to eat and to eat it at a more leisurely pace than dinining in the main. There is plenty of fayre on offer, including the wonderful pizza, pasta, meat dishes and tempting desserts. The food stations are pretty well laid out and there is a good amount of seating available for guests to enjoy their meals from.
After dinner, it was a case of the evening entertainment to take place. We decided to go and see the 21.30 show in the Platinium Theatre on Deck 6/7 forward. It was called Asterix versus Cleopatra and my goodness, what an amazing and fast paced show it was indeed. With a mixture of song and dance with Asterix and Cleopatra inspired characters, it certainly was one for all the family. We even saw Napoleon do the Can-Can!!
The rest of the evening was then spent enjoying a few alcoholic drinks in the Green Sax and also the Safari Lounge, where we even watched a dance lesson session. Was quite fun.
We stopped by the buffet before bed to top up on food and enjoyed a couple of slices of the fantastic pizza. Thereafter, it was bed time. A long day but very enjoyable.
Day 2 – At Sea/Barcelona:
We decided to have a lazy morning on board MSC Preziosa so we decided to order breakfast in the cabin. There was a good selection of pastries, cereal and continental fayre on offer. Was nice to relax without having to head to the buffet.
After breakfast, we took a walk on the upper outer decks where we saw that the weather wasn’t great. Very dull, overcast and showery rain. In the distance, we could still spot Barcelona and the outline of Thomson Celebration, which was already berthed alongside.
Arriving into Barcelona, the weather was still pretty horrible. The rain had increased and by the time we had berthed, it was pretty heavy rain. We decided to take the shuttle bus out of the port to the World Trade Center. From there, we jumped on the City Sightseeing Open Top bus. We did however sit downstairs. We were on the red route and that only took as far as Placa de Catalunya. To see the other famed sites such as the Sagrada Familia, we had to change routes and took the Blue Route. This time, there was no space downstairs so we had to brave the elements upstairs, although there was a roof covering, the rain still managed to get in from the sides and was pretty uncomfortable. We managed to see the Sagrada Familia but couldn’t quite get the best angle for photos, although we tried.
We decided to get off at the stop for the Nou Camp, home of FC Barcelona. Our Editor, Anthony, was last there in 1998 and for Assitant Editor, Christian, it would be his first visit to a football stadium. Not a bad first one to visit! The tour and museum ticket cost around 27.50 Euros which woud get you access to the stadium, museum, trophy room, directors box, dressing rooms and pitchside. You could spend the whole day there, it is that big and fascinating but we did a fairly quick tour as we were conscious of the time factor. After exiting the stadium, it was into the heavy rain and we waited for the sightseeing bus to arrive. Again, once it arrived, there was no space downstairs, so we had to go upstairs and by this time, the rain was monsoon-like and we were guaranteed to get soaked. Christian then asked how far the route would take us to change routes and the guide showed us where to get off and change buses. We got off and waited for the red route bus to come around and fortunately this time, there was seats downstairs, so we could dry off a bit. It took around 45 minutes for us to get back to the World Trade Centre stop where we would get off and embark the shuttle bus back to MSC Preziosa. We were thankful to get back on board the ship after such an eventful and wet day, lol.
Once on board, it was time to go and dry off and get ready for some dinner. We decided to eat again at the buffet as we were happy with what was on offer the previous night and was generally easier. Again very good choice of food on offer and we really enjoyed it as we were both very hungry from our day’s exploits. After dinner, we had a wander around the ship before heading to the show. It was a tribute to Frank Sinatra. Was very good but perhaps wasn’t quite as good as the previous evening’s show. Still enjoyable nonetheless. Afterwards, it was a case of a few drinks in the Safari Lounge. Departure from Barcelona was at midnight so we decided to go out onto the aft decks and see us depart. Was very nice sailaway as the city was gleaming with its lights and the bridge in the port lit in purple too. Afterwards, we had a bite to eat in the buffet before retiring for the evening. Tomorrow, Palma.
Day 3 – Palma de Mallorca:
Arriving early into Palma, we decided to go the buffet for breakfast this morning. There was an excellent choice on offer for breakfast, ranging from fruit, yoghurt, pastries and cereal to the traditional English breakfast, all tastes were covered.
We decided to take a walk into the centre of Palma, instead of taking the shuttle bus. It was a glorious day and very warm, so would do us some good. Was nice to see the sun after the horrible weather in Barcelona.
We had two other ships in port with us. Fred Olsen’s Boudicca was berthed behind us, whilst in the opposite outer berth, there was Silversea’s Silver Spirit.
Having been to Palma last year, it was lovely to come back again. The familiarity of the place allowed for us to walk in and explore without the need for a map. So, we decided first of all to have a soft drink at the Guiness House, which is situated right across from the Cathedral. Not a bad backdrop really.
We then ventured further into the centre and had a first of all popped into the C&A department store to have a look for swimwear for Anthony. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any available, so we were on our way again. Next stop, Haagen Das shop for a well earned ice cream. Mmmmm….was really really nice.
We then started on our walk back to MSC Preziosa, enjoying the lovely sunshine. Once back on board, it was time for lunch and unwind. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing on board. The ship was staying in port over night so if we had wanted to, we could have gone ashore again in the evening but we decided to have dinner and to go and see the show. It was entitled The Mask and again was a high octane, well worked performance which left you in a dazed state of bewilderment and enjoyment. It was then off to the Safari Lounge afterwards for a few drinks and to enjoy the Themed White party. The drinks package we purchased before the cruise worked out at £20pppd, which is incredible value. You can have all inclusive soft drinks, tea, coffee, milkshakes and alcohol. You’d only have to pay for the more premium label drinks but what they had on offer for the inclusive package was excellent. So again we took advantage of that and enjoyed some wonderful drinks including the wonderful Strawberry Daiquiri. Mmmm… wish I was having one now. We then went for a bite to eat in the buffet before heading off to bed, absolutely shattered after all of the walking we did!
Day 4 – Palma de Mallorca
Another full day in store in Palma and again we decided to have breakfast in the cabin, we were treating today as a sea day as we had done what we wanted to do in Palma yesterday. After breakfast, we decided to go and see the other ships that were in port with us. There was three others – TUI Discovery, AIDAperla and Mein Schiff 3. We decided to go ashore just on to the quayside to take some photos of the ships. Was the perfect opportunity to do so and to enjoy a little walk on terra firma again.
After being ashore for the photos, we had a couple of fantastic hot chocolates at Il Cappuccino. Lovely coffee bar in which to relax and unwind with a coffee, tea or tipple of your choice.
The afternoon would certainly turn out to be a lazy one, with generally wandering around the ship. Christian went to test out the swimming pool and hot tubs. Not a bad way to relax whilst Anthony decided to go around the ship taking some more photos before enjoying a pint of beer on the top deck. We’ve certainly had worse Saturday afternoons.
With afternoon slowly turning into evening, thoughts turned to the ship’s departure. After clearing the situation with our membership tiers in the Voyagers Club at future cruise desk, MSC had kindly sent us a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne a few nights before but we hadn’t got round to drinking it. So, we decided to go on the aft public balcony on Deck 11 and enjoy it whilst we sailed out of Palma. Was very nice indeed and a great thank you to MSC Cruises for it.
We enjoyed our last dinner on board MSC Preziosa in the buffet again. Whilst we contemplated going to the Main Dining Room as it was formal night, we thought it would be easier and quicket to just go to the buffet and enjoy dinner at our own pace before enjoying the evening’s entertainment.
After dinner, we went to see the show which again was superb with plenty of action and things going on on the stage. The entertainment on board was excellent with the shows being superbly done.
After the show, Anthony called it quits and went back to the cabin to pack and have an early night. Christian decided to enjoy the evening on board and went to explore the ship and see what was happening.
During the night, the seas got rougher and the winds picked and we could feel the ship move more as we made our way towards Marseille.
Day 5 – At Sea/ Marseille/London Gatwick
Well, today is the last day of the cruise. We spent the early part of the morning at sea and so we didn’t have to be out of the cabins until 10am, which is quite late, so it afforded us to sleep in a little. After a rough night at sea, Christian was feeling a bit better but not strong enough to eat breakfast. We did go up the buffet however and Anthony had his traditional English breakfast, which he really enjoyed.
After breakfast, we went to the upper outer decks to see us arrive into the French port of Marseille. We had company again, with Costa Diadema, Riveria and MSC Armonia all in port. Was the first time we had seen Costa Diadema and MSC Armonia, so two new ships for the album.
After seeing us arrive, we went to the reception and excursions desk to see what they would recommend for getting into the city centre. They advised us to take a taxi and that would drop us outside St Charles Station. The cost of which would be around 15-25 Euros. So, we thought that it was something to consider.
We then took a last wander around the ship before briefly sitting in the main atrium area watching what all was going on. We were due at our meeting point for disembarkation at 12.4opm in the Platinium Theatre. From there, we would be shown to the gangway and we would disembark the ship.
In the terminal building, we asked the tourist information desk what would be the best way of getting to St Charles from the port and they informed us that there was a free shuttle bus that operated from the port gates to the centre of the city. From there, we would get the metro to St Charles and that would only incur a cost of 2 Euros per person. This was something that the on board receptionists did not mention, so we were glad we asked ashore. After a 15 minute walk to the where the free shuttle departed from, we managed to squeeze on to the bus with our luggage. As there was 4 cruise ships docked today, everyone was wanting to use the service.
The journey on the bendy bus was pretty uncomfortable as we had to stand all the way, but were relieved that we wouldn’t have to fork out a small fortune for a taxi. We then were dropped close by to a metro station in the centre where we took it to St Charles Station. We were both rather underwhelmed with both the metro and St Charles Station, however we managed to reach St Charles Station without any problems. We then went to find the ticket office for the bus service to Marseille Provence Airport. Only costing 8.30 Euros, the journey only took 25 minutes and the coaches were far better than the ones we have in the UK.
We arrived at Marseille Provence Airport a good few hours before we were due to fly. We had both never flown from this airport before so was a new experience. We eventually managed to drop ours bag off and then proceed through security to the departure lounge. From here, there was a few shops you could visit and of course the obligatory Duty Free shop, which we resisted!
At around 20.20 we were called through to the gate and by 20.40 were on board our Easyjet plane to London Gatwick. Our departure time was 21.05 and was advised that we would have quite strong headwinds work against us during the flight. Still, the flight went without a hitch and was very comfortable throughout. We could feel the headwind against the plane and so we were not surprised to see we were going to arrive a little late, of course that was not the fault of Easyjet. It was down to Mother Nature.
Once we arrived at Gatwick, we proceeded through to baggage reclaim after going through customers and passport control. We then went to grab some snacks for the hotel and then proceeded to get the shuttle bus to the hotel. Once at the Travelodge, we were surprised to find we had been given a free upgrade to their new Smartrooms and so after a long day of travelling, it was very much welcomed.
This marked the end of the holiday and in the morning, both Christian and Anthony went their seperate ways back home after a superb cruise and stay.
Ratings from the Editor: Out of 10:
SHIP: 8 – Beautiful ship, very clean, easy to navigate and decor is modern, contemporary and classy.
SERVICE: 8 – Overall service was very good. Service with a smile and generally very helpful.
FOOD: 8 – Very good choice of food and venues on offer.
ENTERTAINMENT: 8 – All in all, very good entertainment. Shows were excellent, hardworking and very vibrant.
ITINERARY: 8 – Great itinerary in which you can find the sun. Great ports of call, all very interesting and easy to navigate around too.
OVERALL: 8 – An excellent cruise experience, for the first time we have sailed with MSC. Absolutely love the ship, really great modern feel yet stylish and classic. Highly enjoyable, although manners by other guests were somewhat frustrating at times. Can highly reccomend MSC to those who have never sailed with them before.
PHOTOS OF THE CRUISE: