I remember the first time I walked into a cruise ship six years ago – my eyes widened with wonder. Gilded staircases, ornate elevators, endless buffets, dozens of bars – it was practically a floating city.
I spent most of that holiday marvelling at the logistics of it all – How did the chefs cater to the needs of over 3000 passengers? How was one to sample all 16 bars on the ship in 8 evenings? How did our steward know we liked our sheets just so? Where was all that food stored? Heck! I even remember staring dumbstruck at the thousands of watermelons being loaded on to the ship at one of the ports.
4 years and 5 cruises later, I’m still amazed at the concept of a floating city, which visits a new city everyday.It’s said you’re either a cruise person or you’re not. We belong to the first category – we love the anonymity and luxury afforded by a large ship. No wonder one of our first articles was on a Mediterranean Cruise. A lot of people think of cruises as a family holiday or sneer at the idea of the number of people onboard a cruise ship but Vid and I have always loved the idea of spending a week or two in our own little world (read a cabin perched on the tenth floor of a large ship) without a worry in the world, exploring a new city every day,living it up at the bars and the ship’s casino in the evenings, and dressing up for elaborate black-tie dinners every other day.
These options are amplified manifold on MSC Preziosa – a cruise ship of mammoth proportions. Its MSC Cruises’ newest ship and can accommodate over 4300 passengers and 1300 crew members. That’s almost 6000 people. Phew!! The ship sails around the Mediterranean and it has over a dozen restaurants and bars, cafés, pizzerias, a bowling alley, 4D cinema (loads of fun!), FI simulator, a water park, and loads more. But our favourite part would have to be the view from our balcony cabin and the dreamy infinity pool on the 15th floor of the ship. Don’t believe us? Take a look :-
We opted for an itinerary that took us to some of our favourite cities in Europe – Venice (Italy), Istanbul and Izmir (Turkey), Dubrovnik (Croatia), and Olympia (Greece). We had a grand ol’ time. Click on the subheadings below to read a detailed review of MSC Preziosa or scroll through dozens of our photos onboard the cruise ship. Make sure you check out the photo of ‘Vertigo’ – a crazy water slide perched on the topmost deck of the ship with parts of it right over the ocean . It puts most amusement park rides to shame. Hair-raising much? 😉
The Ship – MSC Preziosa
MSC Preziosa is MSC Cruises’ latest addition to their fleet. The ship is new, so everything from the upholstery to the carpets is squeaky clean. Having been on a fair few cruise ships over the past couple of years, we expected garish interiors. But MSC Preziosa’s lounges and bars are different . Sure there is the standard opulent staircase and ornate chandeliers but the lounges and all public areas are decorated tastefully, bedecked with subtle colours and modern furnishings.
The ship itself is an amazing feat of engineering – it has everything from pools and jacuzzis to an elaborate water park for kids and alfresco bars and coffee lounges for adults, so there is never a shortage of things to do during the day. Some of our favourite areas include the twinkly star-laden ceiling of MSC Preziosa’s Pasticceria & Gelateria and the open-air bar on Deck 15.
Every evening the Platinum Theatre showcases an intriguing musical or acrobatic act. But we spent our evenings waltzing to gorgeous tunes at The Jazz Bar – highly recommended.
THE ROOMS (OUR BALCONY CABIN)
I’ve finally snaked my way to our favourite bit – the cabins on MSC Preziosa. We opted for a balcony cabin on the 10th floor and it was spacious, well-furnished, and equipped with everything we could possibly need for our holiday. We were welcomed with an indulgent tray of chocolate-coated strawberries and chilled champagne. For the next 7 days, our thoughtful steward, Cleber, ensured everything was spick and span in the most unobtrusive way possible. The cabins are serviced twice a day 🙂
At the risk of sounding boring, I have to admit we spent a languorous day or two holed up in our room with a stunning view and a week’s worth of cocktails for company. Then again, I did say the idea of being ensconced in our little world, with everything catered for, is the highlight of every cruise holiday for us 🙂
Food plays a significant role in every holiday but it occupies pride of place on a cruise holiday. A cruise holiday is all about endless buffets, dozens of cocktails, juices, apéritifs, fine dining and indulgent dinners – all followed by some calorie-laden liqueurs. Nom!
MSC Cruises prides itself on showcasing the Mediterranean way of eating. The breakfast and lunch buffets are well-thought out ,plentiful, and open 20 hours a day. We were ecstatic to see a really large selection of fresh fruits and an extensive array of salads, areas often overlooked by cruise ships. Then there’s oven-baked pizzas, pastas, hot-dogs, burgers, artisan cheeses, cold cuts, and a whole host of other Mediterranean and ethnic delicacies.
If those don’t tickle your palate, you can always hop over to the nearest Gelateria on the ship and binge on a few scoops of luscious Italian gelato or velvety smooth ice-cream shakes. We suggest the insanely scrumptious Nutella Shake – you can always work it out at the gym later in the day 😉
However the 7 course sit-down dinners in the main dining rooms are a bit lack lustre. The food tastes essentially the same as buffet food. Hurried plating lets it down further. But MSC Preziosa has a host of à la carte fine-dining restaurants that serve impeccable food and do justice to the rich flavours and scents of the Mediterranean. We absolutely loved the food at Galaxy, located on the 16th floor. The restaurant offers a stunning panoramic view of the ship and its surroundings. If you visit Galaxy, you must try the chef’s signature Cod Tagine and Dark Chocolate Mousse – the stuff epicurean dreams are made of 🙂
THE PORTS AND EXCURSIONS
MSC Preziosa sails in the Mediterranean and offers an exciting array of destinations – who doesn’t want a li’l taste of Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Croatia all in the space of one holiday? 🙂
Most of the ports on this itinerary boast of UNESCO Heritage Sites, stunning Roman ruins, culturally-rich town centres, and offbeat attractions. The selection of ports is bound to tickle your fancy irrespective of whether you’re a wine connoisseur (Dubrovnik), gourmand (Istanbul), history buff (Olympia), or hopeless romantic (Venice). The ship docks at ports for anywhere between 8-15 hours. Cruise holidays offer the perfect opportunity to sample a number of destinations, a tasting platter if you may. You can visit the ones you enjoy at leisure at a later stage.
There are a number of excursions offered onboard the ship for each port. Pick one that suits your taste. However if you, like us, enjoy exploring cities independently, then make sure you research beforehand. Read up on the best way to get from the port to the city and back and plan a rough itinerary before you embark on your cruise holiday.
What vacation is complete without a visit (or three!) to the spa?! MSC Preziosa’s Aurea Spa offers everything from manicures and pedicures to hair styling and professional makeup that will get you preened for black-tie dinners in no time. But the star of the show, according to us, is the body massage – we opted for a couples’ massage in a specially appointed room overlooking the sea. We had to tear ourselves away from the window but it was well worth it – the masseurs onboard MSC Preziosa are exceptional and their nimble fingers ensure complete relaxation. They were so good that we actually went back for seconds the next day – highly recommended after a tiring day spent exploring an exotic port.
PROS AND CONS
- As with any cruise ship, public areas can get crowded during the day, especially around the pools.
- The food in the main dining room in the evenings left us wanting more.
- Cabins are spacious, well appointed, and clean.
- Buffets offer an incredible variety of tasty food.
- Service is exceptional, discreet, and friendly.
- The wine list is remarkable and all cocktails are downright delectable – we reached this conclusion after A LOT of research 😉
- The ship offers a variety of spectacular panoramic experiences – the infinity pool, Galaxy restaurant, and the Vertigo water slide.
- The ports of call are culturally and historically rich – each city is better than the last.
- This cruise is competitively priced and offers great value for money
MSC Cruise Holidays start at £500/ 7 nights per person for an inside cabin. This price includes accommodation, all meals (except for meals at their á la carte restaurants), and evening entertainment shows. More information on their website http://www.msccruises.co.uk/
Are you fascinated by Cruise Holidays? Here’s a selection of our articles on cruises 🙂