On Wednesday 4th October I was very excited to have been invited to #BlogCampOnBoard hosted by Tots 100, and MSC Cruises, on board the MSC Preziosa cruise liner. I had never been to a blogging conference before let alone on a cruise ship, hence my excitement.
The MSC Preziosa was going to be docked in Southampton for the day so this gave us the chance to explore the ship as day guests as well as attend various blogging sessions if we wanted to.
When I arrived at Southampton docks it wasn’t hard to spot where I needed to be. The Preziosa was absolutely beautiful and that was from afar. I couldn’t believe the size of her (not surprising seeing as she has 18 decks, 14 of which are for guests). The sun was already shining and it got me excited to get on board and explore what she had to offer.
We had to pass security just like a passenger would and present our passports, even though we weren’t actually going anywhere we were still treated the same. It was interesting having never been on a cruise before to see it was just the same as traveling through an airport. It looked just like airport departures with security and the departure lounge.
Once we were escorted to board the ship we were once again asked to show our day passes and present our passports to the security team on board – the level of security is really good and definitely makes you feel at ease and feel safe on board.
Once all the checks were in place we walked into the breathtaking main atrium of the ship. It is absolutely beautiful. Everything was so shiny and sparkly and so very grand. The spotlights and lights in the ceiling reflected onto the tiled floor below. There was a beautiful piano situated in front of a generous seating area whilst being encased by a Swarovski crystal staircase. The grandest staircase I have ever seen in my life. Each step has been embedded with the crystals and costs a whopping €8-10,000 – yes that’s right each step! I felt privileged to have walked down them and I can only imagine how glamorous it would be walking down them in a ballgown. There were two glass lifts which gracefully carried guests between each floor.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
We were taken from there into the ships Platinum Theatre, which can seat a whopping 1,603 passengers. It was absolutely huge, far bigger than anything I have been in on land and this was on a ship!
MSC is a family-owned company and that really showed. They have thought of everything and cater for children from babies through to 17 years.
Seeing as we have such a large age gap (L is 14 & C is 5) I was keen to find out how they could both benefit from the kids clubs and I wondered if they could cater for both of them. I was surprised to find they could.
The children clubs are split into five groups:
- Baby – 3 years
- Mini – 3-6 years
- Juniors – 7-11 years
- Young – 12-14 years
- Teen – 15 – 17 Years
Kids can join in as little or as much as they like. Daily schedules are delivered to cabins each day with a forecast on the following day so you have plenty of time to decide what they would like to do. The clubs are open 9am – 11pm and your little cherubs can be taken for their breakfast, lunch or dinner if you wanted the staff to take them. You can even leave them on board in the clubs if you fancied the odd day off exploring an island when the ship is docked. The activities in each club depend on the age but they can range from talent shows, cooking, arts & crafts, discos, DJ/sports/technology programmes … there’s plenty to do.
MSC also offers a new baby laundry service for families traveling with children aged 0-6 years so you don’t have to over pack on luggage. How cool is that? We all know as parents accidents and food mishaps can happen. But on board with MSC you don’t need to worry. They have also partnered with Chicco & Lego to bring fun and educational toys and equipment on board for their little passengers.
I know both of mind would love the facilities on board especially the swimming pools, waterpark and water slide!!
Once we had finished the welcome and briefing in the theatre we were split into three groups. The first thing my group did was have a tour of the ship. We weren’t able to see the entire ship because of time restraints before lunch and the ship currently had passengers on board so we weren’t able to see in any cabins. MSC has however provided some photos of the cabins to show us what they would typically look like.
The MSC Preziosa is a beautiful ship, she was christened by Sophia Loren in Genoa Italy. Sophia is the godmother of MSC Cruises. The ship’s length is 333.30mt, she weighs 130,072 tonnes (WOW!), she can carry 4,345 passengers which are accommodated over 1,751 cabins (45 of which are suitable for reduced mobility passengers) and her average speed on the water is 18 knots (although she can reach 24,21 knots!)
To keep you occupied on board the MCS Preziosa has:
- 3 outdoor pools – one of which is an infinity pool & one indoor pool with a retractable roof, so if you are sailing towards better climates then you can experience the ‘outdoor’ pool vibe.
- Doremi Castle – a water playground for kids
- 120mt waterslide wrapping itself around the outside of the ship.
- Fully equipped panoramic gym (where better to work out overlooking the ocean)
- MSC Aurea Spa – 1,700m of beauty and wellness offering a range of treatments and expert masseuses.
- Onboard shopping boutiques selling handbags, jewellery, perfume and even cameras and camera equipment.
- Platinum theatre – seating 1,603 passengers hosting a range of different shows almost every day of the week.
- Sports and bowling alley (yes that’s right, an actual bowling alley on a ship!!!)
- 4D Cinema
- F1 Simulator
- All night Casino
- Wide choice of live music in a choice of different bars and lounges
The MSC Preziosa has an impressive 8 restaurants on board so there would be plenty to choose from.
- The Golden Lobster restaurant
- L’arabesque restaurant
- Galaxy Lounge
- Panoramic a la carte restaurant
- Maya & lnca buffet (open 20 hours a day)
- Eataly & Italia themed restaurants
- La Locanda international wine bar and pizzeria
- Le Palmeraire (Private gourmet restaurant for Yacht Club passengers)
MSC Yacht Club.
This is an exclusive area for passengers wanting that little bit extra on their cruise. This club is offered on seven of the MSC ships – MSC Preziosa, MSC Divina, MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview. It’s the best way to discover various destinations. Included in the MSC Yacht Club you can enjoy these special privileges:
- Private swimming pool and sun deck
- Private concierge reception
- 24 hr butler service
- Prestige luxury suites
- Panoramic top sail lounge
- Luxury experiences from mini bar, meals, refreshments and drinks
- LePalmerair restaurant
After our tour of the ship, we were taken to the Golen Lobster restaurant for our lunch. We had either a choice of food from the 3-course menu or we could help ourselves to the buffet. I decided to go with the buffet and enjoyed some cold meats, salad, potatoes and some fresh bread. I also opted to choose some dessert from the buffet because quite frankly they all looked amazing.
The staff at lunch couldn’t have been more attentive. They were constantly making sure we had water in our glasses and topped up wine if glasses seemed empty. We had the choice of still or sparkling water and red or white wine. For those of us who didn’t want to drink, soft drinks were on offer too. As soon as plates were empty they were being taken away so the tables were kept clean and tidy.
After lunch, there were a few blogging sessions to choose from so first up I decided to pop along to one that Alison Parry was taking all on Podcasts. I found this really interesting and informative and who knows maybe sometime in the future I might just embark on podcasting. The second session was all about metrics with Sally Whittle founder of Tots 100. We had an interactive game to play for a bit of fun and a good way to find out how Tots 100 work.
After all the blogging sessions we had a Q&A session with the lovely MSC staff whilst sipping on cocktails. They answered some pressing questions us bloggers had about cruising with MSC and help us with any information we didn’t already find out from the day. They told us how they are planning to accommodate British passengers on board by providing kettles in the cabins with the famous Yorkshire teabags (my favourite tea!) They also answered queries bloggers had about children traveling on board with medical issues and how the staff would be able to deal with this.
I then took the opportunity to quickly pop off for one last wander around the deck to take some last minute photos and take in the beauty of the ship before we disembarked.
Before Blog Camp on Board, I don’t think a cruising holiday would have been something I would have booked as our family holiday, but I was surprised to see how many families and children were on board and how many facilities were on board to keep children entertained. It is definitely something I would now consider.
MSC have 16 ships, two of which sail from the port of Southampton – the Preziosa and the Magnifica. This is a huge selling point seeing as Southampton is only half an hour away and it would save the worry of flying out to a destination to board a boat and no baggage allowances to worry about either!
A huge thank you to MSC for welcoming me on board for the #BlogCampOnBoard conference and also to Sally at tots 100 for organising it all.
If you wanted to find out more information on MSC Cruises, you can check out their website for more details.