Last week, I was a guest of MSC Cruises on board their flagship Preziosa. MSC invited 150 of us bloggers on board, and hosted a Tots / Trips 100 BlogCamp in style while Preziosa was docked at Southampton, England.
At BlogCamp we caught up with blogging friends, and learned about blog metrics, photography and podcasting. The real star of the show, though, was the Preziosa. I hadn’t been on a cruise before, but I’ve heard from travel blogging friends like Karen, Sarah, Lisa and Claire that this style of travel can be well-suited to families. For a newcomer like me, the thousands of cruise options tend to blur into a confusing mass of choices. But MSC Cruises and the Preziosa stood out from the crowd for a number of reasons.
Diverse set of travellers
Last year, 200,000 children sailed with MSC, from 35 different nations. All those youngsters were entertained by MSC’s bouncy staff in five different kids’ clubs: Baby (under 3s), Mini (3-6 years), Juniors (7-11 years), Young (12-14 years) and Teens (15-17 years).
Although English is the official language on board the cruise line, and staff speak up to six languages, MSC wanted to make sure their kids’ clubs had a unifying force. The answer they settled on, was Lego. MSC figured that most children understand the international language of Lego, so they set up a partnership with the Danish firm, to help children play together in the kids’ clubs – even if they didn’t speak the same languages.
There was a LOT of Lego (and Duplo, for the younger children) in the kids’ play area.
MSC also have a partnership with younger kids’ brand Chicco. For the older children, on Preziosa there was a hangout space, with video games, street art and a DJ booth, where they could learn how to mix tunes on the decks. On board MSC Meraviglia, we were told, there’s even a teen dance floor to rival that of the adults.
Partnerships with UNICEF and Cirque du Soleil
MSC’s partnerships don’t end there. As a partner to UNICEF, they support the production and transportation of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods, for malnourished children. Every child travelling with MSC has the chance to be a UNICEF ambassador.
Cirque du Soleil, the world-renowned innovative dance and theatre company, has co-created exclusive shows for MSC Meraviglia’s West-End scale theatre. Children who want more of a starring role, can appear in MSC’s web-based series, Kelly and Kloe on Board. Slightly more low-key, but still interactive, is the chance to learn to make pasta with Doremi; a family disco; sports programme; and a lab with a 3D printer and computer, where youngsters can create their own CG art.
MSC Cruises is owned by an Italian family. There was no mistaking this fact when strolling round Preziosa. Where other than southern Europe would you find such a delightful homage to the larger-thighed lady:
Coffee was clearly taken very seriously, with several coffee bars strewn around the ship. I even came across this display,which playfully turned the beverage into a piece of art.
MSC Magnifica will have Southampton as its home port in 2018, and the southern European cruise line has prepared for the 22 rotations from Southampton, up to northern Europe and down to the Med. To celebrate the English sojourn, MSC decided to introduce a very British feature to the Magnifica, and the Preziosa: kettles in the cabins. After a poll of the British public, they decided on a brew to accompany these kettles. The choice? Yorkshire Tea.
Waterslides and pools
Preziosa’s waterslide, Vertigo, is the longest single-rider waterslide on any cruise ship. Just at the point where the slide juts out over the waves, it turns see-through. Yikes. As well as this stomach-lurching attraction, Preziosa has pools with a retracting roof, so customers can swim even when it’s cool outside. There’s a splashpark for the youngsters, and, on some ships, an infinity pool overlooking the sea.
Glitz and glamour
Italian glamour is everywhere on the Preziosa. From the Swarovski Crystal-strewn atrium (each of the steps above is worth a whopping €10,000), to the twinkly ceiling of Il Gioiello and the Safari Lounge’s sparkling dance floor, glitz and glitter greeted us round every corner.
MSC’s lavish style extended to the choice of shops in Il Gioiello. Staff in the Effy shop greeted customers with champagne, and no piece of jewellery was worth less than £3,000.
As well as luxurious shops, on board Preziosa there was a Balinese-style spa, bowling alley, casino and a ‘yacht club’ where customers could pay more to stay in exclusive suites, with a butler service and private restaurants.
After our day on board MSC Preziosa, I wanted to find out more. Apart from the onboard facilities, the other side of cruising is the day trip excursions. MSC’s team told us that the ship’s Mediterranean and northern European routes are good for families, as there are frequent stops along the way. This is a side to cruising I’d like to explore. How would these day excursions compare to independent travel?
Have you been on a cruise? Did you enjoy it?
We were guests of MSC Cruises for the day. All views are my own.
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