This was my first cruise with an Italian Cruise Line and the value for money was incredible. I couldn’t have stayed in a Travelodge for £105 for 3 nights, let alone take a cruise. We topped up with the Allegrissimo drinks package which was around £25 per person per day. It included Prosecco and speciality coffee and gelato’s.
As we boarded the ship, the children were wrist-banded and we headed up to the restaurant. The buffet style restaurant on the MSC Magnifica was by far the largest I have EVER seen. Spread into 2 rooms with fruit and salad stations at each end. By the time I’d seen everything, I’d forgotten what was at the start. Having said that, once I knew how good the freshly made pizza was……….. nothing else mattered. The plates are huge as well so you end up putting a lot more than intended on your plate. I must admit to looking for the ‘catch’. I was expecting to find something that would explain the low cost of this cruise. We went to our rooms to see what they were like. They were lovely, spacious, nicely decorated, nothing wrong with that at all, in fact on a par with the other mainstream cruise lines and better than some. The bed was comfy, pillows lovely and plump, a good amount of hanging space and drawers for your clothes.
I familiarised myself with the baby club and made sure I checked Joshua in for the drop off times. For under 3’s they offer baby drop off onboard MSC Magnifica which is one hour at 1pm and one hour at 6pm. Perfect for parents to indulge in some time in the jacuzzi in the afternoon or a spa treatment, and an hour to get ready for dinner in the evening. There is no charge for this and you can access the baby club all day if you want to let your little one run wild.
This was Joshua’s 3rd cruise and I had taken my daughter 4 times prior to that. As a single parent you can often feel like you are on the outside watching everyone else have fun. I do believe that the best holiday you can have as a single parent is a cruise, but there are still some activities you feel you cannot be part of.
As I was walking through the main lounge known on MSC Magnifica as the Tiger Bar, a member of the entertainment team invited me to join them for the sailaway party. I couldn’t think of anywhere else I needed to be, so I pulled up the pushchair put my bag down, ordered a drink from the waitress standing nearby, took off my jumper and sat down. Joshua took great delight in walking around the lounge, so with Prosecco in hand (mine), I followed him. People were really friendly and by their friendly reaction you would have thought they’d never seen a baby before. One thing I will say about Mediterranean cultures is that they embrace the presence of children which is refreshing.
The entertainment team got up on stage and the music started. People of all ages took to the dance floor, so I picked up Joshua and joined them. He loved it, I loved it. I couldn’t believe it was 6pm and the party was in full swing, what a great bunch of people. My friends came along and we all danced together. My friend and I both looked at each other and agreed that this was fantastic.
So now I was in the holiday frame of mind, and I’d danced off the stresses of the day, it was time to get ready for dinner. We didn’t have long so I figured we would just freshen up, grab dinner and an early night.
We met in the main dining room and did our best to get through 7 courses including steamed mussels, salad, soup, an extensive choice of delicious entrees, cheese and biscuits, dessert and coffee. Joshua was grumpy as it had been a long day and I was exhausted, so we ate what we could and we went back to our room.
One of the many benefits of cruising is that you end the evening when you are ready rather than have to do everything as a group.
I spent the next two days exploring MSC Magnifica, getting plenty of photos, spending quality time with Joshua, eating whatever I wanted, meeting new people and chilling out.
My three favourite areas of the ship were the pool with it’s retractable roof, the Tiger Bar and the nightclub, which didn’t start until 11pm but Josh and I went in during the day and had a good look around. There are plenty of lounges on board and they all have great and varied entertainment to offer.
For me, travelling with a baby, I found I preferred to feed Joshua breakfast in the buffet, then move to the coffee and chocolate bar for a delicious cup of speciality coffee while letting Joshua run about a bit. Then push him around in his pushchair until he fell asleep and go into the main dining room for my favourite dish of eggs benedict. Lunch would be in the buffet and after the first two nights I decided it was easier for us and the sake of other guests, if we had dinner in the buffet as well. The only problem with that is you never stop eating. You keep going back for more. But afterwards I would let Joshua fall asleep in his pushchair and sit in the evening by the undercover pool and read and relax with another glass of prosecco. My friends always seemed to find me and would join me for a while and then they would go off and do their thing.
To sum up my overall experience and opinion of my short cruise on MSC Magnifica, I would say it far exceeded my expectations and delivered quality, class and fantastic service. If you are not one of these people who wants to experience the British and their way of life when you go on holiday, then MSC is for you. It really does give you a feeling of the Mediterranean way of life where people are friendly, positive and ready to enjoy themselves. They are not reserved and will talk to you and welcome you like one big family. It’s a place where age means nothing, old people don’t act old, in fact they act younger then the youngsters. They are living life to the full with the people they love and it shows through. What’s more is that under 18’s sail FREE all year round with two paying adults. So if, like me, you are sometimes travelling with two children, you don’t have to pay for their cruise fare. For more information feel free to contact me directly or go to MSC Cruises or your local travel agent.