MSC Preziosa Grand Voyage - A Beautiful Ship
This was our first cruise with MSC, after having sailed with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard, Norwegian Cruise Line and P&O previously. We had our documents and passports checked by MSC staff at Gatwick before the usual check-in with Virgin Atlantic. The package included Premium Economy flights on the chartered flight to Barbados, which was a great start to the holiday. On landing we were amazed that we came off the aircraft directly onto buses waiting on the tarmac which then drove us straight to the ship without any further checks our luggage we had last seen at Gatwick was delivered to our cabin within a couple of hours the whole experience was seamless. We had booked an inside cabin, but had been upgraded to a balcony cabin at the back of the ship which was clean and of reasonable size, and caught the afternoon sun most days. The bathroom was compact, but well laid out and the shower was the best we have experienced at sea powerful and hot. The cabin had reasonable storage and a large floor to ceiling mirror which is often lacking in cabins. I would have liked some hooks in the main cabin (but there were some in the bathroom). The MSC Preziosa is a beautiful ship with a stunning atrium and many lovely lounges and bars. We were informed that the ship was sailing at full capacity, but we never struggled to find a seat or sunbed in any of the public areas (with the exception of the Solarium). The Aqua Park on deck 14 generally noisy and busy but we always found a quieter spot on Decks 15 or 16. The staff throughout the ship were brilliant - friendly and helpful and made us feel special. We had pre-booked a Thermal Spa cruise package but were disappointed with the facilities. The sauna and steam rooms were supposed to be infused with different fragrances but they all smelt the same. There were a few heated beds in the relaxation area, but no pool or jacuzzi within the spa unless you were willing to pay by the hour for a private jacuzzi. This area was a huge disappointment and consequently we only used it twice throughout the 20-day cruise and felt it was a complete waste of money. Crossing the Atlantic we found that there was no television reception, so the football fans in particular were upset. We have sailed the Atlantic before with NCL and Cunard and have always had coverage, so we couldnt understand why. The Sports Diner was a popular spot when the TV was on, but not always staffed, so we had to go to another bar to get drinks. The biggest disappointment was the dining room experience. We had requested 2nd seating for dinner, and were accommodated in the Golden Lobster Dining Room. However, the top level of this dining room had been closed and therefore the tables downstairs seems squashed in. Four of us were given a table that was suitable for a maximum of three people, as one side was against a partition. It seemed that the waiting staff had too many tables to serve and were therefore always rushed, and the 2nd seating was at 9pm later than the more usual 8.30pm. The food was generally not as good as we have experienced on other cruise ships, although OK on the Gala nights. Dress code on Gala nights not enforced and some passengers came to dinner very casually. Overall, a lack of occasion and finesse each evening. We went for breakfast one day in the dining room but this seemed completely disorganised (maybe we were just unlucky) so we used the Inca/Maya Buffet after that for breakfast and lunch, which was of reasonable quality. At all dining venues the soups, pizza and ice cream were very good. In addition, lovely snacks were available at the Phoenician Plaza from 7am each morning (rolls, cakes, pastries etc). La Locanda Wine Bar served plates of tapas with drinks. The hotdogs, burgers, onion rings and chips we had at the Sports Diner were freshly cooked and delicious. Coffee and other hot drinks are available at every bar, not just in Il Cappuccino. We tried the Eataly and Galaxy speciality restaurants (at extra cost) and the food/experience was great at each. We only went to the Theatre for one show, which we thought amateurish, so didnt return. However, music around the ship was generally good, and we really enjoyed the piano/electric violins trio LAnima. It is worth noting that passengers embark and disembark at most ports of call, so there are always new faces around the ship. The majority of the passengers are European, so public addresses are made in several languages, which some people found irritating. Overall, we had a very enjoyable 20-night cruise and if MSC would get the Dining Room experience right I would not hesitate to sail with them again.
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