Saturday, 7 October 2017

Blog Camp on Board - An Introduction to Cruising (Part 1)

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to attend Blog Camp on Board which was held on the MSC Preziosa part of the MSC Cruises fleet. Now, I'm a relative newbie to cruising, apart from a short look around the QE2 many, many years ago so I was excited to see what was on offer and whether we may be interested in cruising as a family.

I headed down the night before and stayed in a very cheap and cheerful B&B (you do get what you pay for......) which as I hadn't done my research beforehand, I hadn't realised was smack in the middle of university hell on what appeared to be student night...... Let's just say they didn't quieten down until 5am and this girl needs her beauty sleep.....

Bleary eyed but very excited about getting to the Port, I figured (very naively) that once I'd parked the car that I would be able to have a walk along the docks and look at all of these amazing boats and cargo.! It's pretty much the same level as security as an airport and you aren't getting near to anything especially not the sea:

Anyways, this was my first view of the MSC Preziosa:

As I've already mentioned security was very similar to the airport but pretty painless and then we were through and I started to wish I was actually sailing away somewhere:

I'm not sure if it's possible to tell from these pictures the sheer size of the boat. It holds around 4,300 passengers and 1,370 crew. I also really liked that there was a real European flavour to the ship both in crew and passengers although everyone did speak English very well. Conversely the passengers on this ship tend to be younger than traditional cruises and MSC apparently have a much more family ethos than some traditional cruise ships.

MSC are also introducing a new UK schedule to their offerings and the MSC Magnifica will be based in Southampton. This is aimed more at British clients and includes things like kettles in bedrooms, good old yorkshire tea, scones and high tea all run by a British hotel manager and Director.

Once on board this is your first view:

Look at the steps..... made of Swarovski crystals at a cost of 8,000 - £10,000 euros for each step... Now that's some decadence right there:

Obviously it's at this point that you realise what an amateur blogger you are for wearing scruffy boots and not some nice photogenic shoes!!

Unfortunately we didn't have too much time to stop and stare and drink it all in because we were on a tight schedule and had to board in small groups. I understand that there were some frustrations on the day and that as this was the first time MSC had hosted bloggers they had maybe underestimated quite how nosey we are and how often we want to stop and take pictures. So from here we met the rest of the group in the Platinum Theatre. Genuinely, this place is massive and seats 1600 guests but unfortunately my pictures are all a bit naff and don't really show the grandeur.......

We then had an introduction by Matteo who runs the kids clubs but there's quite a lot to talk about in terms of families and facilities for kids so I'll save that for part 2. Next up was a (very) quick tour of the ship which at the time I was a bit disappointed in as it was a real whistle stop tour of one deck and was mainly bars and restaurants. Whilst I was happy to see those, I was also desperate for a drink and loo break which did get sorted out eventually. It was super warm on board but I'm reliably informed by more experienced cruisers that this is not normally the case and that the air con is blasting. I guess as they were in the UK they didn't want their guests freezing to death!!

For lunch we were hosted in the Golden Lobster which was a really lovely space and I thought was luxurious:

Lunch was really interesting as were the people that I was sitting with. We could either choose from the menu or there was a buffet too:

Now, those of you that know me know that I'm honestly super fussy when it comes to food and as lovely as I'm sure this wasn't my kind of food so I went for the buffet option. I didn't get a picture of the mains as I was too busy stuffing my face but there was a choice of hot food, a huge meat and salad buffet and unlimited puddings and wine:

Interestingly, all of the other bloggers I sat with at lunch had food restrictions of some kind either gluten free, dairy free or vegetarian. They did get special menus to choose from and some of the waiters seemed knowledgeable about the choices available however the ladies did have to wait a  long time for their food to arrive. Our head waiter reassured us that it was because all of the food was purposely being cooked and prepared separately. During the Q&A session and afterwards the MSC team have assured us that guests travelling with the company give detailed information regarding dietary requirements when booking and their assigned waiter is aware of any these needs so it shouldn't be a problem if you are cruising with them.

I think we'll leave part 1 there for now but part 2 will be all about the other facilities, the kids clubs (amazing) and my favourite part without a shadow of a doubt - all of the gorgeous things for water babies like me including Vertigo which is the longest single water slide on the seas:

If you have any questions about cruising or about the day then please let me know and I'll include them in part 2!!!

Blog camp on board was hosted by Trips 100 and the lovely guys at MSC on board. I have not been paid or recompensed for this review in any way other than wine, lots of free wine with lunch ;)

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