A day onboard the glamorous MSC Preziosa

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.

Blog Camp Onboard - MSC Preziosa

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 full length view of the sleek MSC Preziosa as I entered Southampton dock!

Can you tell that Claire and I were rather excited to get onboard?

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…

Swarovski staircase onboard MSC Preziosa

Each step is encrusted with Swarovski crystals worth between €8k – €10k.  It provides a stunning backdrop to pose in a cocktail dress with a glass of bubbly!Swarovski staircase onboard MSC Preziosa

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…

MSC Preziosa kids club mascots

How cute are the ships mascots? LEGO Man and Doremi

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.

A few of the facilities in the teen club.  Fellow travel bloggers Nell and Katy get stuck in building LEGO.

I was really impressed to see that all age groups have their own dedicated room with age appropriate toys and activities.

MSC Preziosa - kids club

Amy and I couldn’t resist having a dance off…  I’ve included our scores to prove that I won.  Sorry Amy!

After saying our goodbyes to the friendly youth staff we took a walk up on the top decks to explore the pools…

Pool deck MSC Preziosa

One of the three pools onboard… what a fabulous spot to enjoy a cocktail (or three).

Kids splash park - MSC Preziosa

Kids splash park conveniently located on the top deck of the ship with the best viewing spot for watching the world go by and for watching fellow guests whoosh overhead on the 120 metre water slide!

Walking around the decks - MSC Preziosa

MSC Preziosa has not one but two prom decks for an after dinner stroll.  Perfect opportunity to burn off some of the extra calories consumed onboard.

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!

Blog Camp Onboard - MSC Preziosa

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. 

Pin for later

Review MSC Preziosa





  1. Anonymous
    28th October 2017 / 1:43 pm

    Great information here Lisa. My family has never been on a cruise, but having read your blog I feel really inspired. My husband has been asking me to plan for a one but I’m worried that I’d get seasick. 🙂
    – Amor

    • 30th October 2017 / 11:12 am

      I would definitely recommend it Amor. If you choose wisely, i.e. the Caribbean, you are very likely to experience flat seas and no sea sickness. There is lots you can do to combat sea sickness anyway, (having a walk in the fresh air mid ship on prom deck where you can see the horizon, eating or drinking anything with ginger in it, wearing sea sickness bands, etc). I certainly wouldn’t let that put you off as it’s nothing like travelling for example on a small boat or even ferry. All cruise ships have huge stabilisers underneath the hull so most of the time you will not even realise you are sailing;)

  2. 18th October 2017 / 7:47 pm

    It does look so sparkly, I am dying to see the Meriglavia that looks incredible. But the kids facilities on this ship look fab x

    • 18th October 2017 / 9:52 pm

      Ooh I’m keen to see the Meraviglia too! The water park looks epic

    • 18th October 2017 / 9:54 pm

      You wouldn’t regret it Catherine! I promise you. The sailings from Southampton are particularly great for first time cruisers as the are so convenient. I packed our car so full with suitcases last October that we couldn’t fit my youngest son’s push chair in! We had to go to Mothercare in Southampton dock to go and buy him one once we had checked out bags in.

  3. 14th October 2017 / 7:41 pm

    Oh it certainly looks glitzy and glamourous. I can see myself wafting into that atrium with a drink in hand! Sounds like a great cruise ship – and I am always amazed how much there is on offer onboard!

    • 18th October 2017 / 9:55 pm

      Ooh you would love it Ting! I can definitely picture you in a cocktail dress for formal evenings;)

  4. 14th October 2017 / 1:31 pm

    It certainly was a fantastic day on board. I really loved the kids play area and the staff sounded very enthusiastic about it. Lovely to meet you too on the day. #MondayEscapes

    • 18th October 2017 / 9:56 pm

      Didn’t they just! I know my boys would love hanging out with the youth staff. Lovely to meet you too Helena;)

  5. 13th October 2017 / 8:11 pm

    I still can’t believe all the facilities onboard – it looks wonderful and the kids would be in their element. You have completely sold the cruising holiday to us, we are looking into it for Easter!

    • 18th October 2017 / 1:55 pm

      Whoop great news Katy! I promise you will not regret it. Let me know if you need any help choosing your ship, questions about what to pack, kids clubs etc;) Also check out this website http://www.cruisingkids.co.uk set up recently with three fellow family travel bloggers.

  6. 12th October 2017 / 6:59 pm

    How Hollywood glamorous! The crystal staircases are absolutely stunning – bling bling bling all the way! Fantastic kids facilities love the lego character. You look like you had a fab day out testing out all the kids stuff and touring the 8 decks. Thanks for hosting #MondayEscapes

    • 18th October 2017 / 1:58 pm

      There are 18 decks Jo;) We didn’t get to tour all of them but we had a good go! Obviously some are just for crew/officers, storage, etc. I was blown away by the ship, she is a beauty and very family friendly too.

  7. 12th October 2017 / 12:06 pm

    That is such a beautiful ship – those stairs!! I have been on a few cruises now, and like you the kids club would definitely be a priority. On our second cruise they didn’t provide any baby clubs for our then 1 year old so it wasn’t altogether that relaxing. What’s available here is amazing!
    Emma Raphael recently posted…A Morning with Pippi Longstocking – Junibacken StockholmMy Profile

    • 18th October 2017 / 9:58 pm

      Isn’t it just! For a lot of bloggers who joined us it was there first time onboard a ship. I think they thought it was just normal for the ship to have so many facilities. I thought it was quite exceptional. I would be happy hanging out in the teen room to be honest having a go in the DJ booth!

  8. 11th October 2017 / 2:16 pm

    That looks like so much fun! Also great pictures!!! 😀 #MondayEscapes

  9. 11th October 2017 / 2:14 pm

    Wow, this looks absolutely incredible. Like they have catered for every whim… and much more that you have never thought of yet either!!!
    Coming from #MondayEscapes

    • 18th October 2017 / 9:58 pm

      My thoughts exactly Jules!

  10. 10th October 2017 / 6:38 pm

    The Swarowski crystal staircase, I cannot decide if it is tacky or amazing. The ship has so much more to offer then I thought it would. We have never been on a cruise, but it is something we want to try out soon. #mondayescapes

    • 10th October 2017 / 9:03 pm

      Oh I definitely think its amazing! Perfect setting for the onboard cocktail parties

  11. 10th October 2017 / 12:21 pm

    Looks like an incredibly glamours cruise ship. I can’t believe they have encrusted the stairs with Swarovski crystals. It reminds me of a set from an old Bette Davis movie “Now Voyager.” Everyone should be wearing evening gowns and tuxes. What fun!

    • 18th October 2017 / 9:59 pm

      It’s certainly the perfect backdrop for the formal evenings – ladies in cocktail dresses and guys in black tie.

  12. 10th October 2017 / 5:07 am

    Wow looks like a fabulous time. My kids love Lego. Love the pics you shared too. #mondayescapes

    • 18th October 2017 / 9:59 pm

      Thanks Sumra;)

  13. 10th October 2017 / 2:29 am

    Wow! I can’t believe how bedazzled the MSC Preziosa is. The crystal encrusted staircase? Just wow!

    • 18th October 2017 / 10:00 pm

      Trying to get a photo of it was nearly impossible as of course all 140 bloggers thought the same thing Bryna!

    • 18th October 2017 / 10:01 pm

      It is so convenient for families Nicky. Food is available nearly 24/7 which suits kids perfectly, kids shows, discos, family friendly shore excursions… they have truly thought of everything

    • 18th October 2017 / 10:02 pm

      Aw thanks Nell. I always find it so exciting boarding a ship and yes I agree handing over passports adds to the excitement. If only we could have found somewhere to stowaway!

  14. 9th October 2017 / 5:20 pm

    We don’t cruise very often due to my motion sickness, but this just gave me the itch to look for a good deal! Nice review of the amenities of the ship.

    • 18th October 2017 / 10:03 pm

      Ginger biscuits and ginger tea Jacki! They always made me feel better whenever I felt a little motion sickness. The Caribbean is particularly good for a smooth sail too

  15. 9th October 2017 / 2:40 pm

    It was such a special treat to see the MSC Preziosa – you are right ‘glitzy’ is the word! I loved how family orientated the company is and am gutted that I didn’t see the kids clubs properly!
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Monday Escapes 9/10/17My Profile

    • 9th October 2017 / 7:39 pm

      Next time Claire!

  16. 9th October 2017 / 1:39 pm

    I’ve been on a cruise in the Caribbean, and it just confirmed it is not my cup of tea. I’ll do it again if it will make getting between places possible/easier, but that’s it.

    • 9th October 2017 / 7:44 pm

      That’s such a shame you feel that way Bea. What do you not like about cruising? Who did you cruise with? I cruised around the Caribbean for three seasons, I absolutely adore that part of the world. It has been heartbreaking to watch the news recently of the devastation caused by the hurricanes. I hope the islands are back operational again soon as the locals rely on tourists for their livelihoods ;(

  17. 9th October 2017 / 1:16 pm

    There was definitely a lot of bling there, wasn’t there! Great rundown of what the ship has to offer, have to agree it looks a great option for families. Im really looking forward to the Brit-ified ships with kettles,Yorkshire Tea and afternoon tea options! Great to see you there. K xx #MondayEscapes
    Keri | Ladies What Travel recently posted…A tour of the Houses of ParliamentMy Profile

    • 9th October 2017 / 7:48 pm

      Lovely to finally meet you too Keri. Yes I love the concept of the MSC Magnifica and all of her British features too. Turnarounds in Southampton are so much easier with kids too. Our car was absolutely jam packed full last October for our 12 night cruise. We literally couldn’t fit my son’s push chair in the boot due to the amount of suitcases we had packed. We drove down to S’ton, dropped off all of our bags and then went to Mothercare to buy a push chair. We couldn’t have done that if we were flying out to join the ship in the Med!

  18. 9th October 2017 / 12:49 pm

    Lovely insight Lisa, I know what you mean about approaching a cruise ship for holidays – it’s so exciting. I was really impressed by the kids programme onboard too in comparison to other cruise lines 🙂

    • 9th October 2017 / 7:49 pm

      My husband used to work as a youthy onboard cruise ships Ed and so he was so impressed when I told him about the DJ booths and 3D printers! Things have certainly changed in the ten years since he was looking after kids onboard.

      • 10th October 2017 / 9:39 am

        Oh cool – and yes they certainly have, amazing what they now offer!

  19. 9th October 2017 / 11:38 am

    Wow, how sparkly are those stairs?! The facilities for kids onboard look fab #MondayEscapes

    • 9th October 2017 / 7:50 pm

      Gorgeous aren’t they. I would love them for my house but I think they **may** look slightly out of place!

  20. 9th October 2017 / 11:15 am

    Looks great! A far cry from my only MSC on board experience. MSC were one of my clients in the late 90s and I had a meeting with their chief accountant on board Symphony whilst it was undergoing a refit in Genoa. It was so freezing I kept my scarf in for the whole meeting that took place with drills and hammers ringing in our ears! In true Italian style, at least the espresso was fabulous! #mondayescapes

    • 9th October 2017 / 11:53 am

      Oh this sounds like a completely different experience Wilbur! Thank goodness for the expresso;)

  21. 9th October 2017 / 10:50 am

    That looks like a vary swanky cruise ship. That staircase would make anyone feel like they were walking into a Hollywood event or something. And I completely agree with you- there is nothing like driving up to a cruise port and getting a first glimpse at your cruise ship. #MondayEscapes
    Allison recently posted…Apple Picking at County Line OrchardMy Profile

    • 9th October 2017 / 7:51 pm

      It’s so exciting isn’t it Allison! I always feel like a big kid when I first spot a cruise ship in the distance.

  22. 9th October 2017 / 7:19 am

    I’m excited just reading about it – you’re right it didn’t need to be moving!!! The glitz and the kid-friendly aspects I think it sounds like a winner

    • 9th October 2017 / 7:52 pm

      I must admit I really didn’t want to get off though Keri. I thought I would be ok just walking around the prom deck whilst she was in Southampton port but it really doesn’t compare to walking around the deck whilst out in the middle of the sea!

    • 9th October 2017 / 7:55 pm

      If the kids are happy, everyone is happy Jenny! Even eating onboard a cruise ship is enjoyable with kids. My boys absolutely adored the buffets and having a selection of food to choose from. (Although when we came home they did expect a choice of food for mealtimes at home too!)

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