On Wednesday I revisited my cruising roots with a day onboard the elegant MSC Preziosa in Southampton, impressively ranked among the five best cruise ships in the world. It’s been nearly a year since we cruised as a family and ten years since my hubby and I exchanged our rather glam life at sea for a life together on land. I was therefore very excited to join 140 of my fellow bloggers for the first Blog Camp Onboard.
Waking up in a hotel bed Wednesday morning I experienced the familiar tingly feeling of pre cruise excitement. It didn’t matter that the MSC Preziosa wasn’t sailing anywhere during our visit. I was eager to get onboard, explore her 18 decks, ogle her 3 pools and enjoy a stroll around her promenade decks.
Some people love the hustle and bustle of an airport, others (weirdly!) get a thrill from train spotting. I personally don’t think you can beat the sensation of a cruise ship towering above as you arrive at a port with passport in hand.
My first impressions as I walked up the gangway and stepped into the glamorous atrium were WOW! Unlike any ship I have been on before the MSC Preziosa is a very glitzy and sparkly ship. This may seem a strange way to describe a ship that carries over 4,300 passengers and has 1,700 cabins but just check out this sweeping staircase for yourself and you’ll understand why they are the first words which pop into my mind…
As I walked around the ship following our guide I couldn’t resist taking photos of other glitzy features. I loved the huge crystal chandeliers dotted throughout the ship and the sophisticated decor in the many bars, lounges and casino.
Kids facilities onboard MSC Preziosa
The facilities I was most keen to explore were the kids clubs and pool decks. As a mum of two active boys, (who literally begged to go to kids club every night on our last cruise!), I know that good facilities for my boys would be our number one priority for booking our next family cruise.
I didn’t have to wait long to find out about the kids club facilities. Our welcome speech in the huge elegant theatre was by the Youth Activities Manager, Mateo. His enthusiasm must have been infectious. Within a few minutes I was up on the stage playing games the youth team would normally play with the 200,000 kids MSC Cruises host onboard their fleet throughout the year. We were then introduced to the ships mascots, Doremi and LEGO man…
Unlike other cruise companies MSC attract passengers from 35 different nationalities. This means many kids who attend kids club cannot speak English. MSC cleverly realised that LEGO, (and DUPLO for the younger guests) is a brand that kids around the world recognise and love. I think it’s a great partnership that must make kids from around the world feel welcome onboard.
I was keen to find out how kids are split up. I wouldn’t for example want my three and six-year olds with teens. MSC have of course thought of this and offer five different kids clubs on all 13 of their ships in the family owned fleet. Each club is free and caters for kids of specific ages from babies and under 3’s through to teens 15+.
I was really impressed to hear about the activities on offer in the different clubs including live talent shows, pasta cooking workshops and a technology programme where kids get the chance to use 3D printers. (Certainly beats my kids club days of colouring books and plasticine!) There are even DJ booths in the teen rooms to learn how to operate a mixing deck and disco lights.
After saying our goodbyes to the friendly youth staff we took a walk up on the top decks to explore the pools…
Lasting impressions – MSC Preziosa
I spent the first part of my day onboard MSC Preziosa soaking up the Italian elegant decor, her glitzy features and being thoroughly impressed with the prom decks, outdoor pools and kids facilities. I then spent the second half of the day trying to work out with my fellow bloggers where we could hide and stowaway as we didn’t want to disembark!
I’ll be honest, I was a little dubious about how I would feel being onboard a ship which caters for so many nationalities, (as I’m used to cruising with P&O Cruises which mainly caters for Brits). I thought it may feel segregated if crew and passengers all spoke different languages… it turns out that English is the first language spoken onboard all the MSC ships and the crew are very friendly and welcoming.
I also wrongly assumed that you had to fly out to a European port to join a MSC ship. Conveniently for British passengers, and particularly families with young kids, both MSC Preziosa and the MSC Magnifica have turnarounds in Southampton. (Starting this year and continuing with 23 UK turnarounds in 2018). Having cruised from Southampton last year with my boys I have to say it is SO convenient to load up a car and just drive down to the port. (It also means you can pack as many shoes and dresses as you want to without worrying about strict flight baggage allowances… Hurrah!)
So would I recommend the MSC Preziosa?
Two of the MANY things I love about cruising are the flexibility and freedom the kids clubs offer you as a family and the opportunity to dress up for formal nights. From visiting the onboard kids clubs and meeting the youth team I know my boys would have an incredible time joining in the fun activities. I would also feel 100% confident to leave my boys in the safe hands of the youth staff.
As for my husband and I, I honestly cannot think of a more glamorous setting to enjoy a few rare date nights than onboard the glitzy and sparkly MSC Preziosa!
Disclosure – I was invited to spend the day onboard MSC Preziosa by Tots100 and MSC Cruises for Blog Camp Onboard. All words and opinions are, as always, my own.
All photos copyright – Travel Loving Family with the exception of baby room photo by Kelly at School Run Shop.
For more tips on cruising check out – Cruising With Kids. A new website I have launched with three of my fellow travel bloggers to share what’s new and exciting in the cruising industry for families with kids of all ages.
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