Could a cruise be the perfect family trip..?
We were very honoured to be invited to spend a day aboard the MSC Preziosa recently. Prior to this, none of us had ever been aboard a cruise ship and we were really very excited! I must admit I hadn’t previously considered a Cruise holiday to the family; I’m not entirely sure why but mostly saw it as something people do in their retirement. Could a cruise be the perfect family trip?
As soon as you walk onto the ship the first two bonuses for family travel are quite instantly apparent, it’s a secure enclosed space and all your entertainment is in one place. Chatting to the MSC crew we learned that MSC is a family run company and one of their first considerations when designing the ships are the families travelling. The MSC family pick out the fixtures and fittings personally, everything from the tiles around the pool to the fabric on the sofas and this care and attention to detail is quite obvious as you tour the ship.
One of the first things that demonstrates this family friendly ethos for me are their SuperFamily cabins. As a larger family, cabins that sleep 6 are a godsend and the SuperFamily is two triples connected with a single fixed rate. This gives peace of mind that we will be together and the joined rooms have the bonus of double balconies and bathrooms!
We enjoyed our lunch at The Maya Buffet on the 14th deck which I think may be the biggest buffet I’ve ever seen!! It feels like it covered the entire centre of that floor with the tables to the outside giving them all the most wonderful views. It took a while just to walk around and see all the options available, there are so many; Pizza, Mediterranean dishes, curry, roasts etc you could probably eat a different meal every day of your trip and this is just one of the dining options. Did I mention it’s open 20 hours a day!?
Bored of the buffet, then there’s Eataly for pizza and wine, The Golden Lobster, a steak restaurant and Sports Bar for American Style snacks. I mention the Sports Bar because with Bowling lanes I think this is one of the places my bigger kids would really enjoy spending time. It’s also a great place to keep up to date with the progress of your favourite team with MSC showing Premier League and International Rugby games.
Once fed it’s time for fun and this boat houses so much of it! There are more than 4 swimming pools, including a water slide, kids splash pool, an indoor pool surrounded by jacuzzi tubs which has a retractable roof for sunny days at sea. Finally, I think my favourite is the Garden Pool, an infinity pool looking over the back of the boat.
The children’s clubs are packed full of things to do and run from ages 3-11 with a supervised area for the teens aged 12-17. There really is so much for children to do in these clubs that it’d take me another full post to explain it all, they operate a really full and well thought out programme of entertainment which offers not just the children fun but chances for families to do fun activities together. There is a babysitting service for under 3’s and a beautiful play space in association with Chicco for parents to spend time with their little ones.
There are lots of great extra touches for families with children of all ages, including a Smart Card which gives your child freedom to make a few of their own small purchases. WII, XBox and PS3 tournaments and at a small extra fee, the virtual world amusements, F1 Simulator and 4D Cinema. Whilst teens are entertained with discos and special spa time, the little ones can enjoy fun late into the night too. So you may enjoy evening shows, the children can stay in the kid’s club for relaxing evening activities from 11pm-2am – my lot would leap at the chance of this!
So virtually guaranteed at least a bit of kid-free time where do you go? Personally I’d start in the Spa which I think may have been the single most luxurious I’ve ever seen and we’ve been lucky enough to visit a fair few hotel ones. The couple’s treatment room housed double massage beds, a huge jacuzzi tub, shower, foot spa and heated loungers looking out of floor to ceiling windows. I’m still dreaming of a massage overlooking nothing but a shimmering blue ocean.
You could also relax at any of the numerous lounge and bar areas, have a flutter in the casino or indulge in Mediterranean cafe culture with a coffee at Il Cappuccino or ice cream and pastries at Phoenician Plaza which protects you from the elements if necessary whilst feeling just like an outdoors piazza.
I expected the ship to be glamourous with exceptional entertainment and it both met and far exceeded my expectations. I didn’t imagine the theatre would be full sized with a light show which looked like it could meet the requirements of a major performance. Indeed, on certain trips, Cirque de Soleil will be performing a show exclusively for MSC! Everything was big, bold and impressive from the beautiful crystal encrusted Swarovski stairs in the atrium to the Diamond Bar, Safari Lounge and Galaxy Disco each has a distinctive feel and is fun and fancy all at the same time.
All this and I haven’t even mentioned the trips or the on-shore excursions; do I think a cruise may be the ultimate family holiday? Oh yes, I truely do! I think there’s exactly the right mix of loads to do whilst also the opportunity to get some well-earned rest and quality time.
From April 2018 the MSC Magnifica will be cruising directly from Southampton around the Mediterranean, Norwegian Fjords and Baltic Capitals. Packages can be booked for as little at £519pp with full routes, details and more available at msccruises.co.uk